South Africa 30.5.2016 08:52 am

Sentencing proceedings to start in Zephany Nurse case

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)

“One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that babies can’t be bought for R3,000.”

Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe is expected to start sentencing proceedings in the case against a 51-year-old Lavender Hill woman convicted of kidnapping Zephany Nurse 19 years ago.

The woman was convicted in March on charges of fraud, kidnapping, and contravening the Children’s Act for snatching three-day-old Zephany Nurse from her mother’s hospital bedside on April 30, 1997.

She had been born at Groote Schuur Hospital by caesarean section to Morne and Celeste Nurse on April 28, 1997.

The accused cannot be named to protect the identity she gave the infant just over 19 years ago.

During judgment, Judge Hlophe described the accused’s version of events about what happened as a “fairytale” and rejected it “with contempt”.

Hlophe said she had had a relatively simple story to tell. She had a miscarriage in 1993 and again in December 1996. She went to Tygerberg Hospital where she consulted a gynaecologist and met Sylvia, a woman who offered to help her with fertility treatment or an adoption.

According to her version, the accused paid an R800 deposit for a total amount of R3000 and when fertility tablets failed to work, she opted for adoption.

On April 30,1997, she said Sylvia arranged for a woman to hand her a baby at the Wynberg train station and she was told that the child’s mother did not want it.

Hlophe said during judgment: “I find your evidence astonishing to say the least”.

He said the baby did not have adoption papers, its umbilical cord was still attached and the circumstances in which the baby was handed over were very suspicious.

“One does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that babies can’t be bought for R3,000.”

“This is a fairytale to say the least,” Hlophe said.

He accepted the testimony of nine state witnesses, including that of material witness Shireen Piet.

Hlophe praised Piet as having a “remarkable memory” and said there was no reason to reject her evidence.

Piet testified during the trial that she too had given birth at Groote Schuur Hospital on April 28,1997.

She had been visited by the accused several times over a period of the following two days.

Piet said she had asked to “borrow money” from the accused to use a pay phone, all the while keeping an eye on her ward. The accused had attempted to snatch her baby, but Piet had managed to stop her.

At the time, Piet helped police draw up an identikit.

In February last year when the Hawks arrested the accused, Piet positively identified her in an ID parade.

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 Hawks in February. The accused was arrested shortly thereafter.

DNA tests confirmed the girl was indeed the child the family had been searching for.

Since the accused’s arrest, the girl has not been allowed contact with the woman who raised her, but is living with the man she believed was her father.

When Hlophe delivered judgment in March he revoked bail for the accused and she has been behind bars ever since.

Zephany Nurse is expected to testify for the State during sentencing proceedings.
– African News Agency (ANA)

 

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