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SA couple recounts hostage horror

Supportive family members eagerly awaited Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz at the airport.

Debbie Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari at the OR Tambo International Airport on 27 June 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African couple held hostage by Somali pirates detailed some of the horrific experiences of their 20 months in captivity on Wednesday.

Supportive family members stood with "Welcome Home" posters awaiting the couple at the OR Tambo International Airport's arrival terminal, while dozens of journalists surrounded the terminal gates.

Tears of joy came from family, friends and ordinary South Africans when they caught a glimpse of the duo.

After spending a few days in Rome, Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz arrived safely in Johannesburg on Wednesday afternoon.

They were released last week, during a rescue operation involving South Africa, Somalia and Italy.

The couple was reluctant to say too much at this stage.

Calitz however admitted her experience as a hostage was comparative to being in hell.

"We weren't fed very well," she said.

"Handcuffs," Pelizzari prompted her.

"And we were handcuffed permanently, all the time, 24 hours," she explained.

"We weren't allowed to bath."

She said no one should have to go through the same thing.

"We've got to let it out in the public so these people can stop what they're doing. They've got no right to do what they do to people," she said, fighting back her anger.

The couple was debriefed by International Relations and plan to spend the weekend reuniting with their families.

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