I can build my relationship with Zephany – biological mother

Cape Town – "At least I can build my relationship with my daughter,” the biological mother of kidnapped Zephany Nurse said after the woman who snatched her daughter 19 years ago was found guilty in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

Celeste Nurse burst into tears when Judge John Hlophe convicted the 51-year-old woman of kidnapping, fraud, and contravening the Children’s Act. The verdict came just over a year after she was arrested and the now 18-year-old girl was found in her care.

Overwhelmed, Nurse had few words as she left the court with her fiancé. 

“I am happy,” she said.

Zephany’s biological father, Morne Nurse, had no words.

“We are just glad this woman is locked up,” a relative said.

Celeste Nurse's mother and Zephany's biological grandmother, Marilyn Francis, said after crying about her missing grandchild for years, they were happy the “Lord gave our child back”.

“I feel sorry for [the accused]. She also felt like a mother to that child,” she said.

Forgave the accused

Francis said she forgave the accused. “She is going to jail. Prison for a woman at that age is not a good place. But this is justice.”

In an interview with News24 before the verdict was handed down, the accused said the 17 years and 10 months she spent raising the girl had been the happiest of her life.

Her husband, who also cannot be named as it may lead to the teenager’s current identity being revealed, said Zephany still considers the accused her mother. He continued to refer to her as his daughter.

She is living with him at their Lavender Hill home.

The accused maintained that the child was handed to her 19 years ago by a woman helping her with her infertility problems, who told her the baby’s biological mother did not want her.

On Thursday, the husband said Zephany had told him to wish his wife luck and give her a kiss.

Both said they wanted the child’s biological parents to be part of her life.

Build a relationship

“I have encouraged her to build a relationship with them. They are her birth parents. We don’t want to stand in the way of that,” he said.

The accused nodded in agreement, and said she was sorry for what they had been through. 

“I am glad they found her. She is a wonderful child. I am proud of how she turned out.”

She said she was not sorry for taking the baby when she was apparently handed to her.

“What I am sorry for is that [Zephany] found out about it this way. I love her and if she wants me, I will always be in her life. I will always be her mother.”

The biological family had bonded with Zephany, Francis said. She would grow out of her connection to the accused.

“Blood is thicker than water. She will definitely come back. That lady was her mother for 18 years. It’s not easy for a child to lose her mother.”

Overwhelming evidence

Hlophe, delivering his verdict, said there was overwhelming evidence that the woman, who had suffered a miscarriage four months before the kidnapping, snatched the infant while her mother slept in the maternity ward of Groote Schuur Hospital on 30 April 1997.

She registered Zephany as her biological child at the Malmesbury home affairs office, and lied to both her husband and the girl that she had given birth to her.

Sentencing will take place on May 30.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 2103 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
50% - 9838 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
36% - 7153 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 700 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.40
+0.3%
Rand - Pound
19.84
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
16.68
+0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.52
+0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+1.0%
Gold
1,775.21
-0.2%
Silver
20.14
-0.7%
Palladium
2,155.12
+0.1%
Platinum
937.43
-0.1%
Brent Crude
95.10
-3.2%
Top 40
64,726
+1.1%
All Share
71,505
+1.1%
Resource 10
65,387
+3.2%
Industrial 25
87,072
+0.1%
Financial 15
16,239
+0.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE