Somalia: Somali community in South Africa hailed as heroes 25 Jun 25, 2012 - 8:44:51 AM
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa Jun 25 2012 (Garowe Online) – Somalis living in South Africa were crucial in assisting in the release of two South African hostages freed after 20 months in captivity in Somalia, Garowe Online reports.
The South African couple Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz, were freed following a ransom that was paid last Wednesday after 20 months of captivity in southern Somalia. The two were kidnapped by Somali pirates after a yacht they were on was hijacked while sailing in the Indian Ocean in October 2010.
According to Independent Online (IOL) a South African based media agency, the Somali Community in South Africa was essential in the release of the hostages.
The group which represents Somalis across South Africa was credited in assisting the South African government in locating the hostages as well as playing a substantial role in negotiations.
The Somali Community Board chairman, Abdulhakim Mohamed was in Mogadishu when the two hostages were released and was recognized as being one of the key negotiators who helped reach an agreement on an unconfirmed ransom payment.
According to IOL, Debbie Calitz sisters’ fiancé, Colin Aboud regarded the Somali community as heroes adding that the community helped raise the “lion share” of the ransom payment.
Chairman Abdulhakim and his group also pressured tribal elders and government officials to assist in the release of the hostages.
The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) held a press conference after the release of the two South African hostages but did not mention the vital role that the Somali community in South Africa played in releasing the hostages.
Somalis abroad have played leading roles in releasing hostages before, Dahir Abdullahi Kadiye a taxi driver from England gave up his job to act as a negotiator in the release of Paul and Rachel Chandler.
The couple, who were kidnapped in October 2009, were released ending more than a year in captivity after Somalis abroad with some assistance from the Somali government raised close to 450,000 dollars to add to the funds raised by the Chandler’s family and friends.