16 Feb 2011

Auckland family tries to raise pirate ransom

10:18 pm on 16 February 2011

An Auckland man whose sister is being held hostage by Somali pirates says his family is trying to raise enough money to have her released.

South African couple Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari were abducted four months ago off the coast of Tanzania.

Ms Calitz's brother Kevin Van de Merve says 14 pirates boarded the yacht from two skiffs and forced the couple to sail to Somalia.

He says the pirates were originally demanding $13 million ransom but it appears the couple has been sold to another gang that is asking less.

Mr Van de Merve says the experience of a British couple recently freed by pirates gives him some hope.

However he says it was also difficult to hear the hostages are often kept in cages, beaten and separated.

Mr Van de Merve says he has had numerous calls from people pretending to be the kidnappers and demanding money.