6 babies stolen from Western Cape hospitals since Zephany Nurse abduction

2016-08-04 13:48

Cape Town - Since the abduction of baby Zephany Nurse 19 years ago, six other babies have been stolen from state hospitals in the province, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.

In the last two decades, incidents were reported at Hottentots Holland, Tygerberg, Worcester, Mitchells Plain and Groote Schuur hospitals, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Barkhuizen - who investigated the infant’s kidnapping from Groote Schuur Hospital - told the court.

"Security steps at state hospitals have been upgraded to a large extent to prevent such incidents taking place," he testified during sentencing proceedings against the kidnapper.

Three-day-old Zephany was the 698th person reported missing in the Western Cape in 1997, Barkhuizen said.

That year, 155 children were reported missing. Seven had still not been found.

Baby Zephany was snatched on April 30 of that year. The kidnapper has maintained that Zephany was given to her by a woman, who had been giving her fertility treatment, in an "adoption".

Her birthday has been celebrated since that day, on that date, while she lived with the Steenberg woman.

Zephany’s true identity was revealed by DNA tests after the Nurse’s daughter Cassidy, who attended school with her, told her parents that the girl bore a striking resemblance to her.

On March 10, Judge John Hlophe convicted the woman of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children's Act. 

The accused’s probation officer, Yumna Rinquest, on Thursday testified that she recommend that it was in the interest of the victims that the accused face direct imprisonment. 

According to her report, the kidnapper maintained she had no knowledge of the incident, and had not accepted responsibility or shown remorse.

Riaz Khan, for the accused, argued that the report did not include the accused’s personal circumstances, or that she was a first offender.

The kidnapper’s mother abandoned her when she was 12 and she was left to look after her six siblings.

Rinquest said that, according to her consultations with the accused, she had coped well and, while she did struggle, she had "overcome difficulty".

The accused had lost a baby of her own and had suffered miscarriages in the years leading up to Zephany’s kidnapping.

"The report appears to minimise her trauma, when compared to the interests of complainants," Rinquest argued.

Following the conclusion of the day’s proceedings, Zephany’s biological father Morne Nurse said, according to advocates he had been speaking to, the accused should get "at least six years for every year she had my daughter".

"But the figure in my mind is at least 30 years," he said.

Closing arguments were expected to be delivered next Thursday. 

 

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