Suspected kidnapper wore Groote Schuur nurse's uniform, court hears

2016-03-07 17:30
The woman accused of kidnapping Zephany Nurse leaves the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

The woman accused of kidnapping Zephany Nurse leaves the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town – The nurse who saw a suspected kidnapper and the mother of a newborn baby, who claimed Zephany Nurse’s alleged snatcher had tried to take her daughter, said she could not remember the face of the woman she saw in a foyer 19 years ago.

Groote Schuur nurse, Gertrude Hanslo, on Monday told Judge John Hlophe she could remember nothing except the clothes the woman was wearing when she saw her speak to State witness Shireen Piet on April 30 1997.

Piet testified in the High Court last month that the woman accused of stealing three-day-old Zephany tried to take her baby earlier that day.

The woman, who cannot be named as it may lead to the teenager being identified, is on trial facing charges of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act. She has pleaded not guilty.

Piet said a woman who appeared heavily pregnant came to sit with her in her ward several times after she gave birth at Groote Schuur Hospital on April 28, 1997.

Give me my baby!

On the day of Zephany’s kidnapping three days later, Piet said she asked the woman to lend her some money to make a call from the nearby public phone booth.

The woman went to her room downstairs and returned with a handful of money. Piet took only enough for the call and went to the booth, leaving the woman in her room, but keeping an eye on the ward.

She hung up when she saw the woman with her baby, outside the ward, near the lift and stairs.

"I said, 'Give me my baby. Give me the child'."

Piet said the woman claimed the baby girl had been crying, but when she looked at her, this did not seem to be the case.

Later that day, she came across an emotional Morne Nurse, Zephany’s biological father, who told her his daughter had been stolen.

Hanslo said she had seen Piet near the lifts that day when her shift ended and she was on her way home.

When asked if the woman she saw with the witness was in the courtroom, Hanslo said that after almost 20 years, she could not remember.

"She was wearing a maroon pants and a cream top. Those days it was the nurse’s uniform at Groote Schuur," she said.

Looked like a visitor

Hanslo testified that she did not interact with the woman. "She looked like a visitor… She was not a nurse. She didn’t have a face I recognised."

The accused has insisted in her testimony that she had not been at Groote Schuur Hospital on the day Nurse was kidnapped in 1997.

The woman was arrested in February 2015 after the matter came to light when the girl's biological sister, who is four years younger, told her parents a matric girl at her school bore a striking resemblance to her and her parents.

When the parents discovered the girl had the same birthday as their missing child, they reported it to police. DNA tests confirmed the teenager was indeed their daughter.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

Read more on:    zephany nurse  |  cape town  |  crime

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