As it happened: 'Your story is a fairy tale' - Zephany Nurse snatcher found guilty

2016-03-10 11:00

Judge John Hlophe has found the woman accused of kidnapping Zephany Nurse from Groote Schuur hospital in 1997 guilty on all three counts against her.

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Last Updated at 15:16
10 Mar 12:03

For those just tuning in, the woman accused of kidnapping Zephany Nurse from Groote Schuur hospital when she was just 3 days old has been found guilty by the Western Cape High Court.

Read on below to see how Judge John Hlophe's verdict unfolded, as he retold the version of events given by all the witnesses...


10 Mar 11:45

10 Mar 11:38

10 Mar 11:30
Outside the Western Cape High Court...

10 Mar 11:26

10 Mar 11:20

Hlophe: Presumption of evidence is no longer.

Extension of bail is refused.

At that, Judge John Hlophe concludes his judgment. The court rises as he leaves.


10 Mar 11:19

Hlophe: The accused has just been convicted of three serious charges.

The accused has been found guilty of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children's Act.


10 Mar 11:18
She is a danger to society, State argues.

10 Mar 11:18
The nature of the crimes means the accused can be sentenced to up to 10 years direct imprisonment, Hlophe says.

10 Mar 11:17
The State is opposing the bail request.

10 Mar 11:12

30 May has been set down for sentencing.

Defence asks for bail of R5000 to be extended.

Initially when arrested, she was questioned and asked to report to police next day and she did, defence lawyer Reaz Khan says.


10 Mar 11:09

Judge Hlophe finds the accused guilty on all three counts.

Celeste Nurse [Zephany's biological mom] bursts into tears.


10 Mar 11:07

Paying R3000 is a fairy tale to say the least Had it been legally adopted, the adoption would have been registered separately.

Your story is a fairy tale. Onus is on the State to prove case beyond reasonable doubt.

I’m absolutely satisfied the state has proven case of kidnapping beyond reasonable doubt.


10 Mar 11:06

Judge Hlophe:

It is clear form the evidence that the biological parents did not give you any permission to remove the child. According to the evidence, you must have been the person who removed the child form the hospital.

Clear from DNA evidence that you are not the mother. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know you don’t buy babies.


10 Mar 11:05

You told him in February [last year] that he was not the biological father and you are not the biological mother.

I find your conduct astonishing.


10 Mar 11:04

You lied to him for almost two decades, made him believe he was the biological father.

You didn’t tell the father of the child that you had had a miscarriage. You made him believe you were still pregnant.


10 Mar 11:04
You must have known you can’t accept treatment from a stranger who professes to help with fertility. The evidence from your husband didn’t take it further, it made your case even worse.

10 Mar 11:00

I found your evidence astonishing, Hlophe tells accused.

Firstly, when the baby was handed over, you should have been aware that the baby still had a pin on umbilical cord.

There were no adoption papers.

The circumstances were suspicious under which the baby was handed over to you.


10 Mar 10:59
The accused said she had a feeling something was wrong.

10 Mar 10:58

No documents on Sylvia or receipts were produced to the court.

She was asked why she accepted the baby from a stranger and did not go to the police, she was afraid she was going to be in trouble.

Indeed she is in trouble right now, says Hlophe.

She did not file adoption papers, and it was not forwarded to the authorities.


10 Mar 10:56

According to the accused, they were to meet at Wynberg train station, but when she arrived, she was not there.

She was approached by a woman who asked if she was waiting for Sylvia.

The woman approached her and gave her the baby. She said this is the baby that Sylvia said I must give to you.

She told her to go to Retreat Hosptial and phone Sylvia form there.

She went there, and she phoned her there. She said she had wanted to be present when born and wanted to meet the parents.


10 Mar 10:53

She borrowed the R800 from her late brother, she testified.

There was an exchange of telephone numbers. She gave her five pills but could not give the name.

She took the treatment and did not fall pregnant.


10 Mar 10:52
She told her fertility treatment cost R3000. The deposit was R800.

10 Mar 10:52

The accused had a simple story to tell.

She had a miscarriage in 1998. At the hospital she came across the woman related to a fertility/adoption programme.

She had given a white business card and had a Cape Town landline number.


10 Mar 10:50

Police explained they are going to take the child from her, and she said "laat sy asseblief by my bly tot alles oor is".

She maintained she is the mother. She missed a golden opportunity to tell the truth.

It is clear to me there is overwhelming evidence, Hlophe says.


10 Mar 10:49

Policewoman WO Coetzee testified that they interviewed the accused.

When asked where the baby was born, she said at a mobile clinic in Retreat.

She said the baby was the biological child of her and her husband.

She said nothing about adoption.

The records of the clinic did not show the baby's birth.


10 Mar 10:46
Detials were furnished to home affairs, or the child would never have been registered.

10 Mar 10:43

A birth certificate was issued in March 2003.

[The child was then 6-years-old].


10 Mar 10:43
The testimony of her manager, Gerhard Kotze, corroborated this.

10 Mar 10:42

Evidence from Wilma Hofmeyer, from the Malmesbury Department of Home Affairs, said adoptions are not done from their office.

She was cross examined about registration, and said documents must be attached or it cannot be registered.


10 Mar 10:42

The accused gave evidence that contradicted Mary.

I am satisfied that Mary's evidence must be preferred.


10 Mar 10:41
Mary Lewis, who the accused said she phoned to collect her from hospital, denied emphatically that she was contacted by the accused. She said she never went to the hospital to fetch the accused.

10 Mar 10:41

She was not able to remember the person, and could not identify the accused.


10 Mar 10:37
She was not able to remember the person, and could not identify the accused.

10 Mar 10:37
Nurse Gertrude Hanslo testified on the day of the kidnapping that she saw a woman wearing a cream top and maroon pants, similar to the uniform worn by the nursing staff.

10 Mar 10:35
According to the child's school records, the accused and her husband are the biological parents.

10 Mar 10:35
Judge Hlophe says he is satisfied that all 9 State witnesses gave trustworthy testimony.

10 Mar 10:34

10 Mar 10:34

10 Mar 10:32

Mrs Piet was a good witness. Her evidence was clear and satisfactory.

There is a reason why she remembered her face - the accused tried to take her daughter.


10 Mar 10:31

The evidence was looked into in its totality.

There is so much overwhelming evidence, says Hlophe.


10 Mar 10:29
The person was eventually found in possession of the baby.

10 Mar 10:29

The defence wanted evidence to be treated with caution as she was not sure that the person was the one who committed the crime.

But Mrs Piet identified the accused as the woman who committed the crime.

So much objective evidence that corroborates her evidence, says Hlophe. She wanted to be sure that the person she wanted to identify was the right person.


10 Mar 10:28

After the woman's arrest during an ID parade, Mrs Piet said she recognised her chin, and said she was just older and fatter [than the person she remembered].

She was the person who had tried to steal her baby, Mrs Piet had testified.


10 Mar 10:23
There is a strong resemblance between the accused and the sketch, says Judge Hlophe.

10 Mar 10:23
Mrs Piet, after finding a Morne Nurse later that day crying as his baby was gone, she helped police compile a sketch of the suspect.

10 Mar 10:22

Mrs Piet asked her to give it back. She handed the baby over, saying the baby had been crying. The baby did not look to her as if she had been crying.

Mrs Piet saw her for the last time a bit later, when they went to investigate a noise coming from within the ward.


10 Mar 10:22

The phone was nine metres from the ward.

She [Mrs Piet] discontinued the call when she saw the accused carrying the baby away form the ward.


10 Mar 10:21

On 30 April, the woman visited her [Mrs Piet] again, for a second time.

She asked the woman for money for a phone call.

The woman [the accused] told her [Mrs Piet] she had been struggling for 18 years for a baby.


10 Mar 10:20
Hlope says he's satisfied with Morne Nurse's testimony. No reason not to accept it.

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