The 52-year-old woman convicted of kidnapping baby Zephany Nurse says she is guilty of “raising the child, not stealing the child”.
In a pre-sentencing report presented to the Western Cape High Court, the Lavender Hill woman is described as externalising responsibility, instead of admitting guilt and showing remorse.
The defence called their one and only witness, clinical psychologist Mark Steyn, who spent about 16 hours interviewing the accused at Pollsmoor Prison.
Earlier this year, Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe convicted the 52-year-old woman of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act.
She kidnapped three-day-old Zephany Nurse from her mother’s Groote Schuur hospital bedside in 1997.
She had been born by caesarean section to Celeste and Morne Nurse on April 28, 1997, and was abducted on April 30.
Steyn told the court that the accused “was of the opinion that she had not committed any offence. She was disappointed by the conviction, and felt she was wrongly convicted”.
He further told the court that she felt the judicial process had been “flawed”.
The accused “held the view that she has not been the cause of any harm to any persons in this matter, and that she has been a good mother and loved her and this should be acknowledged. She didn’t have empathy for the biological parents.”
Steyn said the accused had had three miscarriages and had given birth to a baby when she was 16 years old, but the infant had died five weeks later.
Between December 1996 and 1997, she was diagnosed as having secondary infertility at Tygerberg Hospital.
Steyn said the accused believed she was a good mother to her sister’s son whom she had raised as her own, as well as to Zephany Nurse.
She always referred to Zephany with the name she had given her, but which the courts have ruled may not be made public in order to protect the new identity of the teenager.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Evadne Kortje called Steyn’s report “flawed”.
Steyn admitted it was his first pre-sentencing report and that he had never testified in court at a pre-sentencing stage before.
He agreed with the prosecutor “that he had been thrown into the deep end in this case”.
He was lambasted for referring to Zephany with the name the accused gave her, as well as for calling Zephany the accused’s “de facto daughter”.
Steyn apologised for using that terminology.
The gallery was packed with members of Zephany Nurse’s biological family, who could be heard murmuring in agreement with the prosecutor as she grilled Steyn.
The real identity of Zephany Nurse was discovered last year when her younger biological sister started high school at the same school as her. When classmates commented that she bore a striking resemblance to a matric girl, she told her father.
Morne Nurse began his own investigations, met the teenager for himself, and informed the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in February.
DNA tests confirmed the girl was indeed the child the family had been searching for for almost 18 years.
– African News Agency (ANA)