“Even if she gets married, she will always be the child that was stolen.”
These were the words of Zephany Nurse’s grandmother Zephra Nurse, the woman she was named after, yesterday outside the Western Cape High Court.
The family was at court to hear final arguments in the case of the 52-year-old Seawinds woman who was convicted of snatching Zephany from Groote Schuur Hospital in April 1997.
An unforgiving Zephra says the kidnapper “must pay the price” of her crime, while they try and rebuild their relationship with Zephany.
She says the 19-year-old has been badly damaged by the ordeal, and is even too afraid to leave her house.
“[The kidnapper] messed that child up, this child is living like a recluse, she is scared of the world, for people to see her and say ‘that is that child that was stolen’, she will never have a normal life,” an emotional Zephra says.
She agrees with her son Morné, who believes that Zephany will come back to them once the accused is out of the picture.
“[The kidnapper] has a very strong hold on her whole family, even on her own husband, they bow before her.
“She must pay a price, she was sitting with our daughter for 17 years and 10 months. She had time to come and say ‘look, I have your daughter, I will put her somewhere, just pick her up’, but she didn’t.”
Mornè Nurse although they had at first entertained the idea of forgiving his daughter’s kidnapper, that option is no longer on the table.
He says: “I don’t think forgiveness is in my vocabulary right now. Throughout the trial this lady showed no remorse, no empathy, she was laughing at us while we were very emotional.”
“She never told my daughter the truth yet, so I don’t think there is forgiveness from my side.”
“I personally was looking at a 30-year sentence, which is laughable given what she has done to me and my family, but anything from 15 to 20 years should be fine for us.”
Zephany’s maternal granny, Marilyn Francis, believes the healing will begin after Monday.
And while a hefty sentence won’t bring back the missing years, “it will bring comfort to the family that justice has been served”.
Celeste was not at court yesterday.