National 2.8.2016 01:07 pm

Media banned from Zephany Nurse’s testimony

Celeste Nurse and a family member leave the Cape Town Magistrates' Court on February 27, 2015. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer)

Celeste Nurse and a family member leave the Cape Town Magistrates' Court on February 27, 2015. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer)

The kidnapper has maintained her innocence throughout the trial, and claimed the child was sold to her by a woman called Sylvia.

Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe has ordered that no details of Zephany Nurse’s testimony be revealed to the media.

The teenager, who is at the centre of a sensational kidnapping trial, testified in camera on Tuesday, and journalists were ordered out of courtroom 1 at the start of proceedings.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila was expected to give a statement, but told journalists the judge had made a court order, and anyone privy to her testimony and found to reveal details, would have to appear before the judge as they would be “in contempt of court”.

He said “the sensitivity of the testimony” was the reason behind the court order, and the State had made an application in this regard several weeks ago.

Zephany Nurse was kidnapped from her mother’s hospital bedside when she was just three days old on April 30, 1997. She had been born by caesarean to Morne and Celeste Nurse on April 28, 1997.

The accused in the case cannot be named to protect the identity she gave Zephany almost two decades ago. The 52-year-old woman was found guilty of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act in March.

She has not been allowed to have any contact with Zephany since her arrest in February last year. But the teenager has been living with the kidnapper’s husband and the man she believed was her father.

On Monday, clinical psychologist Mark Steyn, testifying in mitigation of sentence for the defence, told the court that the accused “understood the wrongfulness” of what she had done.

During interiews with Steyn, she had said “even if they were bad people it wouldn’t have been a reason to kidnap Zephany”.

The woman has maintained her innocence throughout the trial, and claimed that the child was sold to her by a woman called Sylvia. Her version was rejected by Judge Hlophe and dismissed as a “fairy tale”.

State prosecutor Evadne Kortje told the court on Monday that there were three types of women who commit this crime – a nurturing woman, an impulsive psychotic woman and the manipulative woman. “Clearly this woman falls into the latter part. She manipulated her husband, Zephany Nurse and her whole family, and they are none the wiser for it”.

Zephany’s true identity was discovered in February last year when her younger biological sister started at the same high school as her. The sisters’ striking resemblance prompted Morne Nurse to investigate, and as his suspicions grew he contacted the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks). DNA tests confirmed the teenager was indeed the child they had been searching for.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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