Sentencing proceedings are expected to continue in the Western Cape High Court today, in the case of the woman convicted of the 1997 kidnapping of baby Zephany Nurse from a Cape Town hospital.
Zephany’s biological parents have described in court the impact of their three-day-old daughter’s kidnapping on their family and marriage.
The three-day-old was snatched from her hospital bedside on April 30, 1997. After an almost two-decade search for their daughter, the Nurses found her when their second-born started high school at the same school as her and pupils remarked on their similarities. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) were called in to investigate, and after DNA tests were done it was confirmed Zephany was indeed the Nurses’ missing daughter.
Celeste Nurse was the first State witness to testify in aggravation of sentence. The petite and softly spoken mother then described the emotional turmoil she suffered after her firstborn child was kidnapped. She said she would put a picture inside Zephany’s carry cot and talk to her.
She told the court her husband blamed her for the kidnapping for several months, and was angry that she had been sleeping when the baby was snatched. She said everything had changed since her missing daughter was discovered in February 2015.
Struggling to hold back tears, Celeste Nurse said her relationship with Zephany was “strained”. She also questioned why her daughter had not been placed in a safe house, but was instead allowed to live with the kidnapper’s husband.
The accused’s version, which the court rejected, was that Zephany’s parents had given her away and that she had bought the infant from a woman called Sylvia.
In February 2015, Celeste Nurse’s divorce from husband Morne Nurse was finalised.
Morne Nurse also described the devastating impact of the kidnapping, saying “emotionally it made me a wreck completely. I couldn’t eat for days. It was killing us as a family”.
He conceded that he blamed his wife for the kidnapping and said she had blamed him for not being present. He is expected to continue his testimony on Tuesday.
The accused has been behind bars since her conviction in March this year and is not allowed to have any contact with Zephany. Her identity cannot be released in order to protect the new identity she gave Zephany.
– African News Agency (ANA)