The testimony of a witness who claimed to have seen the woman accused of kidnapping baby Zephany Nurse in 1997 was “remarkable” considering it was given almost 20 years later, Judge John Hlophe said on Wednesday.
Hlophe, in the Western Cape High Court, dismissed defence attorney Reaz Khan’s claim that Shireen Piet’s evidence was unreliable.
Last month, Piet testified that the alleged baby snatcher tried to take her own infant almost 19 years ago.
The woman, who cannot be named as it may lead to the teenager being identified, is on trial on charges of kidnapping, fraud, and contravening the Children’s Act. She has pleaded not guilty.
On the day of Zephany’s kidnapping three days later, Piet said she asked the woman to lend her some money to make a call from the nearby public phone booth. She left the woman in her room, but kept an eye on the ward. She hung up when she saw the woman with her baby, outside the ward, near the lift and stairs.
“I said: ‘Give me my baby. Give me the child’,” she testified.
Piet said the woman claimed the baby girl had been crying, but the new mother said this did not appear to have been the case. She put her baby back in her cot. The woman stayed with her.
Piet said she never saw the woman again after that day. She later found a crying Morne Nurse, Zephany’s biological father, who told her his child was gone.
‘Older and fatter’
She later gave police a description of the woman who had tried to take her baby.
The accused, who Piet said had gotten “older and fatter”, was the woman who had sat with her in the hospital 19 years ago. Having identified the woman during an ID parade last year, Piet said she remembered her chin, which reminded her of her sister-in-law.
Hlophe said Piet had seen the woman over two days and had had enough time to observe her and later identify her.
“What interest does Piet have by fabricating evidence?” Hlophe asked.
Khan insisted that Piet had not been able to immediately identify the woman during an ID parade held last year.
“She was not sure, and we can’t ignore that. She testified she wasn’t sure to begin with until the end of the ID parade,” he said.
Hlophe said Piet eventually pointed out the right woman.
“She gave an explanation. She wanted to be sure. She identified the accused.”
The woman was arrested in February 2015. 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 the day their baby went missing, they reported it to police. DNA tests confirmed the teenager was indeed their daughter.
Hlophe is expected to deliver a verdict on Thursday.[Source: News24]