Zephany was handed to me at train station - accused

2016-02-23 21:00
Morne Nurse. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Morne Nurse. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town  The woman accused of snatching baby Zephany Nurse claimed she was not at Groote Schuur Hospital on the day of the incident in 1997 and that she was given the child by a stranger at the Wynberg train station.

According to a plea explanation handed in to the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, the accused, who cannot be named as it may lead to the teenager being identified, said she paid a woman to assist her with her infertility problem and after this failed, the woman gave her a baby instead.

The accused said she fell pregnant in September 1996, but miscarried three months into her pregnancy. While at Tygerberg Hospital waiting to see the doctor to confirm the reason for her pain and bleeding, the woman said she was approached by "a lady... who said she helped women with infertility problems".

The woman allegedly said she could assist with adoption as she "knew many women who did not want their children due to unplanned pregnancies".

"She provided us with a brochure and said the costs were R3 000," the woman claimed in the court papers.

After the doctor told her at a later appointment that she had a problem with her fallopian tubes, she was given medication and advice.

She said she again saw the woman, known as "Sylvia", speaking to another woman while filling in details on a clipboard. "I approached the lady and inquired about fertility. She informed me that should I be interested, I should fill in my details on the forms she had."

The woman said the accused would be given medication and requested a deposit of R800, which the accused later borrowed from her brother, she claimed.

Promised she would fall pregnant

She did not tell her boyfriend, who she later married, that she had miscarried. "I was promised I would fall pregnant as soon as I used the medication and had intercourse with him. I believed Sylvia could help me," she said.

She saw the woman again at her next visit, where she handed over the R800. The woman then allegedly gave her medication with instructions. The woman said she would "call three weeks thereafter".

The accused said she did not fall pregnant.

She later met the woman in Cape Town to pay some of the money owed. When asked if she was interested in adoption, the accused said she was.

A month later, the accused claimed she paid more of the money owed and asked about the adoption process. The woman apparently responded that she would have to fill in forms which would be forwarded to a court in her area.

"In April 1997, I received a call from her. She advised me a young girl was not interested in keeping her baby and wanted to give the baby up for adoption.

"I asked whether I should be present when the child was born. She confirmed that I would be present."

Baby in a blanket

Another phone call later, the woman apparently told the accused to meet her at Wynberg train station at the ticket office. Sylvia, however, did not arrive.

"I was standing on my own when I was approached by an unknown female who asked me if I was waiting for Sylvia. I confirmed and she showed me a baby who was wrapped in a blanket."

The baby was apparently from Sylvia.

"I was taken by surprise, as I was expecting to meet Sylvia and not for a baby to be handed over to me," she claimed. "I thought Sylvia wanted to meet me to discuss the adoption of the baby she spoke about previously."

The accused claimed she was told to go to Retreat Day Hospital and call Sylvia when she got there. "I decided to take the baby and when I arrived [there], I called Sylvia who informed me that the nurse I was to meet was not available.

"I asked her why she had not informed me that I was going to be given a baby. She told me the baby’s mother is the young girl she previously told me about who wanted to give up her child for adoption."

The accused said she asked when she could meet the parents and was told they would "meet again and deal with that issue". 

'Bad feeling'

"I was told the baby was mine and the documentation will be sorted out later. [But] I had a bad feeling – something was wrong."

As she had not told her family about her miscarriage, she "decided [to] tell them it was my baby".

Two weeks after she received the baby, she said she phoned Sylvia to ask when she would meet the baby’s mother as well as receive the baby’s paperwork.

When they met in Cape Town, the accused said Sylvia arrived alone. She “cannot recall” what Sylvia said about where the mother was.

“She then took out forms from her bag. She told me she will register the baby on my name and requested me to sign certain forms.”

Among these, she said, was the “adoption application”.

As she wanted the baby registered on her then-boyfriend’s name, his signature was also required, the accused said.

A man apparently arrived at their home one evening with the documents her husband needed to sign.

“[My then-boyfriend] asked me what [it was] and I informed him it was documentation to register Zephany on his surname,” she said.

“I never heard from Sylvia again.”

She said she was unsure of whether she lost the woman’s number or if she attempted to contact her without reply.

She said she even went back to Tygerberg Hospital to look for Sylvia to ask for the adoption documents and the birth certificate.

In 2003 – six years later - the accused said she received post containing a birth certificate.

She “lived long with the guilt of not telling [Zephany and my husband] about the adoption” as they had a close relationship.

“As we grew closer it became harder to tell them the truth.”

Seventeen years later it was discovered that the baby was Zephany Nurse, who was abducted while her mother slept, three days after giving birth.

The 51-year-old faces charges related to the Children's Act, fraud, and kidnapping.

She 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 that 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 teen was indeed their daughter.

The case resumes on Wednesday.

Read more on:    zephany nurse  |  cape town  |  crime

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