A South African woman who kidnapped a 3 day old newborn baby girl while she was sleeping beside her mother in a hospital in Cape Town in April 1997 and raised the girl as her own, was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Monday for kidnapping.
The presiding Judge, Judge John Hlophe in Cape Town announced the sentence, telling the 52-year-old convicted kidnapper that she had caused “immense” pain to the kidnapped girl’s biological parents, the African News Agency reported.
The young woman who was kidnapped as a baby is known as Zephany Nurse, but that’s not her real name, that name is the one given to her by her biological parents and used in the media in the years since her disappearance.
So in order to protect her privacy, a judge ordered that her adopted name and the name of her kidnapper should not be used by the media.
Zephany Nurse was reunited last year with her biological parents, Morne and Celeste Nurse, after the couple’s second daughter befriended a girl at school who looked so much like her. The couple’s second daughter was baffled by the similarities and told her parents about it. When her parents saw Zephany Nurse, they immediately suspected that she could be their long lost daughter, so they got the police involved.
A police investigation and DNA tests showed that the two girls were sisters and confirmed that the new friend was the Nurse’s missing child.
During the court case, the kidnapper still maintained that she didn’t kidnap the little girl in 1997 which annoyed the judge during sentencing.
Judge Hlophe criticized the kidnapper for sticking to her story that she had bought the baby from a woman who told her that the biological parents did not want the child.
“At the very least, one would expect you to apologize, but you chose not to.”
The family of the convicted kidnapper blew kisses to her as she was led to a holding cell after the sentencing, and there was an alleged confrontation between the kidnapper’s family and Zephany Nurse’s biological family outside the courthouse.
Chantall Berry, Zephany Nurse’s aunt allegedly said:
“She belongs to us.” “She has our DNA. Her DNA will never change.”
Zephany Nurse’s biological parents were in court for the sentencing Monday, but their daughter was not. Zephany Nurse has not been allowed to have any contact with the convicted kidnapper but has been living with the kidnapper’s husband, who she thought was her biological father.
The prosecution said the woman defrauded authorities when she registered Zephany Nurse as her own daughter in 2003 under a false birthdate.