Questions surround release of SA couple

It remains unknown whether ransom was paid to free Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz.

Debbie Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari after their release on Thursday.

JOHANNESBURG - There were conflicting reports on Friday as to exactly how a South African couple were released from the clutches of Somalian pirates after 20 months.

Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz were abducted from a yacht off the East African coast in October 2010.

On Thursday, it was announced they had been freed.

The South African government insisted that it paid no ransom money to free the couple, but Calitz' daughter Samantha de Jesus told Eyewitness News that she thinks money was indeed paid to the pirates.

The pirates initially asked for $10 million, but the amount was reduced as the kidnapping drama continued to drag on.

The Somalian government said the couple had been freed in a rescue operation, while Department of International Relations claims their freedom was secured via a joint operation by the governments of Somalia, South Africa and Italy.

The couple are currently in Rome visiting Pelizzari's mother.