The Seawinds woman convicted of kidnapping three-day old baby Zephany Nurse from Groote Schuur Hospital in 1997, and raising her as her own for 17 years, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
She was also found guilty of fraud and contravening sections of the Children’s Act.
Presiding Judge John Hlophe said there was no way the accused couldn’t have known the child she kidnapped was missing and that she brought much harm to to the Nurse family.
Hlophe says he has considered all possible sentences and is convinced direct imprisonment is an appropriate measure, but added that the accused’s failure to plead guilty and lack of remorse was not an aggregating factor in her sentencing.
The woman snatched Zephany Nurse from her mother’s hospital bedside on April 30, 1997. The infant had been born via caesarean section to Morné and Celeste Nurse on April 28.
The Nurses’ 17-year search for their missing daughter finally ended when their younger biological daughter started high school at the same school as Zephany.
Classmates remarked on the sisters’ striking resemblance and when the younger sister told her father, he contacted the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks). DNA tests revealed the matric girl was indeed Zephany Nurse, and the accused was arrested in February last year.
The woman claimed in court she bought Zephany from another woman, Sylvia, at a train station in Wynberg in 1997.
Both Celeste and Morné Nurse testified in aggravation of sentence that their lives had been severely impacted by the kidnapping, and that a relationship with their now 19-year-old daughter was non-existent.
Relatives of the accused shouted “bye, we love you” as the accused was led to the cells after sentencing.
But Zephany Nurse’s biological family shook their heads in disbelief as they exited the court.