A war of words erupted outside the Western Cape High Court between the biological family of Zephany Nurse and relatives of the woman who kidnapped her.
Minutes after Judge President Yahya John Hlophe sentenced the kidnapper to 10 years imprisonment, emotions ran high outside court as relatives on both sides digested the news.
Zephany’s biological father, Morné Nurse, along with his mother, sister, brother and other relatives were first to exit the court, followed by the accused’s family.
Celeste Nurse, flanked by her fiancé Justin Smit and mother Marilyn Francis, quickly ran out to avoid the conflict, and the media.
A Cape Times reporter caught up with her, and the mother of four broke down during an interview.
Asked how she felt about the kidnapper’s sentence, she said: “I’m upset, I’m devastated, I’ve lost my daughter and no amount of years can bring her back,” she said before breaking down in tears.
“It’s never going to be over, she has been sentenced, but the damage has been done.
“I think any mother standing here; if anything should happen to your child, you will never recover from it.
“Even if they gave her 50 years, it wouldn’t have repaired [my relationship with Zephany] she took my daughter, she was three days old, she took my baby from my arms.
“I have to rebuild that, how will I rebuild that?” she sobbed while being comforted by Marilyn and Justin.
The interview ended when Morné arrived and told the reporter to leave.
Morné, who wanted a 30-year sentence for the woman who stole his baby, said he was happy with the 10-year sentence and was looking forward to repairing his strained relationship with Zephany.
“We will be moving on with healing and finding a way forward, which is to build a relationship with my daughter,” he said.
During this time, Morne’s sister, Chantal Berry, got into an argument with the snatcher’s family.
Chantal said the kidnapper’s family had insulted her.
“This guy came and said he will smack the glasses from my face,” she said.
“They want to go on. She belongs to us. She has our DNA. Her DNA will never change.”
One woman shouted at Chantal: “You will never benefit from Zephany.”
As heated words were exchanged, Morné’s brother Gavin Nurse walked over to the group to confront them.
“They cannot treat my sister like this, no man, no,” said the angry man who was told to ‘voetsek’ as he was being led away.
“We’ve been keeping our mouth for too long.”
An angry relative of the accused told reporters Zephany will now never reconcile with the Nurses.
“She does not want anything to do with them,” says the 34-year-old.
“That child is going to be devastated [by the sentence], that is the only mother she has ever known.
“Emotionally she is strong, because she has family, it’s just the words that are said by these people about her supposed ‘steel pa’.
“That man wakes up every morning to provide for Zephany and they want to criticise him, when they do not contribute a cent to her.
“When they had to pay for a simple thing like her matric ball dance, they never even pitched.
“Instead they harass her on Facebook saying she is living in a bubble and fantasy world.
“If they had hope of reconciling, it is gone, she tried to build a relationship with them but it did not work.
“Bottom line is, a child was stolen but the way they [Nurses] are going about it is wrong.”
Neither family wanted to comment on Zephany’s reported pregnancy.