Cape Town - The woman convicted of kidnapping baby Zephany Nurse from her medicated mother three days after her birth, betrayed the child she raised as her own, Judge John Hlophe said during sentencing on Monday.
“You caused so much harm to Zephany, who for 17 years didn’t know you were not her biological mother. You actually betrayed her,” the judge president said as the 52-year-old stood in the dock, her eyes averted.
The woman was sentenced to an effective 10 years behind bars - 14 years for kidnapping of which four years would be suspended for five years, five years for fraud and five years for contravening the Children’s Act.
The sentence will run concurrently.
Hlophe said he considered all three charges as serious, and pointed out she had pleaded not guilty and showed no remorse.
“You had every opportunity to return the child, year in and year out,” he told her.
“It’s clear that you have caused so much harm to the Nurse family, something you should not be proud of. You should have apologised at the very least, which you did not do.”
Hlophe said the crimes she committed were of a serious nature, but that he had taken her personal circumstances such as her age, previously clean criminal record and chronic conditions into consideration.
“I hope that one day after you have served your sentence you will not be broken, but will be rehabilitated.”
Outside the court, emotions ran high as members of the Nurse family and the accused’s loved ones nearly came to blows.
Biological father Morne Nurse broke up the near brawl, after the two families hurled abuse at each other.
Overwhelmed, he said he was glad the court proceedings have been concluded.
“We are happy with the 10 years. I just want to get home and let it sink in,” Nurse said.
When asked how he thought Zephany, who is still using the name given to her by her kidnapper, felt about the only mother she has ever known going to prison, Nurse said he couldn’t comment on her “personal issues”.
“She is my daughter and my DNA. Now the healing begins. The way forward is for me to build a relationship with her.”
A relative of the kidnapper, however, had scathing comments of the Nurse family.
“She doesn’t want anything to do with them,” the woman said.
“Emotionally she is well and has love and support she needs. She is just broken down because of the comments made about her [family who raised her]. They tell her she is living in a bubble, a fantasy world.”
She was encouraged to forge a relationship with her biological family, the woman insisted.
“She even slept over, but she would phone her ‘steel-pa’ to fetch her,” she said.
“That child will be devastated [that the woman is going to jail]. That is the only person who ever cared about her.”
WATCH this online video as the Zephany Nurse parents speak