MEC warns media about 'slanderous' Zephany reports

Morne Nurse speaks to reporters outside the Western Cape High Court. (File, Tammy Petersen, News24)
Morne Nurse speaks to reporters outside the Western Cape High Court. (File, Tammy Petersen, News24)

Cape Town – A Western Cape MEC, Albert Fritz, on Wednesday threatened to approach the Press Ombudsman about the “speculative and slanderous” articles about Zephany Nurse.

“The ongoing ‘anonymous source’-driven news articles which are unconfirmed, speculative, and slanderous, only serve to stigmatise her and derail her actual process of building her self-identity and self-actualisation,” social development MEC Fritz said in a statement.

He pleaded with media houses to “show restraint and respect” to the now 19-year-old girl.

Last year, she was found living with her kidnapper in Steenberg. The woman had raised her as her own.

The woman, whose identity is known to News24, may not be named due to a court order protecting her identity.

On August 15, the 52-year-old kidnapper was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for kidnapping the 3-day-old Zephany Nurse, while her mother slept in a ward at Groote Schuur Hospital, just days after giving birth.

On March 10, Judge John Hlophe convicted the woman of kidnapping, fraud, and contravening the Children's Act. She maintained in her testimony that she had not been at the hospital on the day Nurse was kidnapped in April 1997.

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

DNA tests confirmed the teenager is Zephany.

Healing process

The kidnapper, however, said she got the baby from a woman called Sylvia, who had been giving her fertility treatment in 1997, after she had miscarried.

Sylvia apparently arranged for the baby to be handed to her at the Wynberg train station without her prior knowledge, she claimed.

Zephany, now 19, currently lives in Steenberg with the man she thought was her father.

The teenager was sent to a place of safety after the kidnapper's arrest. She, however, opted to move back to the home in which she was raised. She is understood to have a close bond with the kidnapper's husband.

Fritz said the department had been providing Zephany with ongoing support. Social workers would continue to offer counselling, therapy, and other services.

“Our sole aim is to assist her in the process of healing. It is important to note that Zephany is her own person, and has begun to live her life as she sees fit. The department will continue to walk with Zephany, and assist where needed as she plans her life.”

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