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‘I didn’t know Zephany was stolen’

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The accused in the Zephany Nurse kidnap case has stuck to her plea explanation during cross examination, and insists she did not know the infant had been stolen.

The Lavender Hill woman, who can’t be identified to protect the identity of Nurse, who now has another name, claimed she was given the three-day-old baby girl on April 30, 1997, by a woman called Sylvia.

She told the Western Cape High Court on Monday that she had miscarried her own baby in December 1996 and had kept this secret from her partner and siblings.

A woman she met at Tygerberg hospital who introduced herself as Sylvia offered to help her with either fertility treatment or an adoption.

She told the court she paid Sylvia an R800 deposit, and that the total cost was R3 000.

She was given five tablets and said she believed she would fall pregnant after her miscarriage, but when she didn’t she decided to opt for adoption.

Prosecutor Evadne Kortje asked her: “Since when in South Africa do you pay for a baby?”

But the accused insisted Sylvia was very “convincing” and she believed the adoption process was legitimate.

She told the court that Sylvia had told her there were many young mothers who didn’t want their babies.

A week before she was given Zephany, she testifed that Sylvia had called her to say a young woman wanted to give up her child.

“I asked her if I could be present for the birth. I wanted to meet the mother,” she told the court.

On April 30, 1997, she arranged to meet Sylvia at the Wynberg train station where she waited for her for 45 minutes.

A stranger arrived and asked the accused if she was waiting for Sylvia. When she said she was, the stranger handed her a newborn baby and told her to take it to Retreat hospital and phone Sylvia from there.

Kortje said: “That doesn’t happen everyday – a baby given to you out of the blue”.

The accused responded: “I was also a bit confused at that time.”

She told the court she had been expecting to go through adoption papers, and had not expected to be given a baby that day.

When asked why she didn’t go to the police, she replied: “No, then they lock me up for a baby.”

She admitted that her family did not know she was trying to adopt a baby.

Earlier, the accused admitted that she lied to her partner and family when she didn’t tell them she miscarried in December 1996, and allowed them to continue believing she was pregnant.

She told the court she took the baby to Retreat hospital as instructed and called Sylvia who told her she would sort out the adoption papers.

She then contacted a neighbour, “Aunty Mary”, who fetched her from the hospital.

The 85-year-old Mary Lewis testified earlier in the trial that she never fetched the accused and a newborn baby from Retreat hospital.

When Judge President John Hlophe reminded the accused of this, she insisted that Aunty Mary had dropped her at home that day.

The public gallery was packed with members of the Nurse family, many of whom were wearing specially designed red t-shirts.

The words “If God is for us, who can be against us” were emblazoned on the back on the t-shirts, as well as “Justice will prevail”.

Nurse was abducted from her mother’s bedside at Groote Schuur hospital almost two decades ago and only a twist of fate led to the discovery of her real identity.

The discovery was made in February last year when her biological sister started high school at the same school as her.

Classmates noticed their striking resemblance, and when the younger sister told her father, Morne Nurse, he began his own investigation.

His suspicions that the matric teenager was his long lost daughter were confirmed when the Hawks investigated, and DNA tests confirmed that she was the biological daughter of Celeste and Morne Nurse.

The accused has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, fraud and contravention of the Children’s Act. She is currently out on bail of R5 000.

[Source: African News Agency/IOL]
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