Zephany Nurse's kidnapper believes she is the real victim, court told

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

Cape Town - The woman convicted of kidnapping Zephany Nurse from Groote Schuur Hospital 19 years ago feels she is the primary victim in the case, the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

The kidnapper, who may not be named as it may lead to the victim being identified, believes she was unfairly and wrongly convicted, clinical psychologist Mark Steyn testified during sentencing proceedings.

He had met with the Steenberg woman on 13 occasions to assess her mental and psychological health.

"[The accused] was of the opinion that she had not committed an offence," he testified.

"She could not accept her conviction and feels she was guilty of raising her, but not stealing her."

The woman - who described herself as a "mother by nature" - held the view that she was not guilty of causing harm to any person, Steyn said.

She had suffered three miscarriages before the baby was kidnapped from the hospital.

"She maintained she had loved and been a good mother to [Zephany]."

He said the accused presented signs of self-esteem issues, and sought affirmation from others, which may indicate why she appeared to not show any guilt or remorse.

"Admitting to have done something wrong is for her too threatening," Steyn testified.

'Should we feel sorry for her?'

The accused raised Zephany, as well as her sister’s son, who described the accused as a good, caring and committed mother.

Steyn was the only witness called by the defence to testify.

Prosecutor Evadne Kortje questioned Steyn’s experience, as he had only been practicing for a year and a half.

Steyn conceded that he had never testified in a "matter like this before".

Kortje took exception to the fact that, in the majority of his report, Steyn referred to the victim by the name given to her by her kidnapper, and not as Zephany Nurse.

Kortje insisted that any statements from the accused should not be believed, referring to the woman’s description of her life, as told to the psychologist.

The kidnapper previously told the court that she and her siblings had been deserted by their mother as children, that she had been abused in the past, and suffered from infertility.

"She is trying to make it appear she had been a victim from infancy," Kortje argued.

"She described herself as a loner. So? Should we feel sorry for her?"

The State further slammed the psychologist’s report as it did not give details of what may have motivated the crime or the risk of her reoffending.

"Where is the psychology of the accused?" she asked. "She manipulates people. Where is this in your report?"

Steyn replied he had followed his brief and that this was what had been compiled in his report.

'Listened to her lies'

On March 10, Western Cape Judge President 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 Groote Schuur Hospital on the day Nurse was kidnapped in 1997.

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

DNA tests later confirmed the teenager was Zephany.

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.

Hlophe in March dismissed her version, saying he had "listened to her lies for days".

Along with the girl’s biological family, friends and loved ones of the kidnapper also attended proceedings on Monday, waving and mouthing words of encouragement to her as she stood in the dock.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you 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.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Who do you think is going to win the 2020 US election?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Biden is going to take it
46% - 7496 votes
It's four more years for Trump
54% - 8626 votes
Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo