15 August 2016

Woman jailed for newborn baby kidnap

A South African court on Monday jailed a woman for 10 years for kidnapping a newborn baby and raising her as her own, before an astonishing coincidence reunited the girl with her biological family.

The baby girl, named Zephany Nurse by her birth family, was taken from her sleeping mother at a maternity ward at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1997.

Her kidnapper, now 52, raised her for 17 years in a case that has attracted huge media interest in South Africa.

The girl’s real identity only came to light in February 2015, when her younger biological sister began attending high school and pupils pointed out her remarkable likeness to a final-year student.

Eric Ntabazalila, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, said prosecutors had sought a 15-year sentence for the kidnapper, who cannot be named to protect her victim’s identity.

“She gets 10 years’ direct imprisonment. We are happy with that,” said Ntabazalila.

“You cannot go out and steal a child and expect that the society will accept that, or the courts will accept that, or the general public will accept that,” he added.

“It’s wrong, it’s a crime.”

The Nurse family had been living within a couple of kilometres of their kidnapped daughter, while celebrating her birthday every year and never giving up hope of finding her.

Once their other daughter told her parents that another pupil at school looked just like her, they went to meet the older girl and immediately thought she could be their long-lost child.

DNA tests confirmed she was indeed Zephany, leading to the arrest of the woman who had claimed for nearly two decades to be her mother.

Handing down the 10-year sentence, a High Court judge in Cape Town said the woman’s crime was premeditated and too serious not to warrant jail time, South Africa’s News24 said.

– Dad wants time to bond –

Zephany, who is now pregnant, was raised under a different name and has shunned the media spotlight on the case.

The teenager was sent to a place of safety after the kidnapper’s arrest.


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