While the conviction of Zephany Nurse’s kidnapper might be a victory for the Nurse family, the teenager is left with the burden of picking up the pieces of her life and living with a memory of a family which was previously her safe-haven. Yesterday, the Western Cape High Court handed down the judgement in the sensational case. The 51-year-old Lavender Hill woman, whom Nurse believed to be her mother, was found guilty of all three charges against her.
The emotionally gruelling task of coming to terms with a traumatic experience such as this will, therefore, undoubtedly have a psychological impact on the young woman.
Director of Molo Songololo, Patrick Solomon, says Nurse through this trial was forced to face the fact that the life that she thought she had, and the mother that she thought was her biological parent was not “real.” She was, therefore, placed in a position where she had to face the reality that she is abducted and inserted into a family that is not her blood – a traumatic experience for an individual of any age.
Prior to her discovery, Nurse resided a stone-throw away from her biological parents. Her location was uncovered when her sister began attending a new school and noticed that Nurse had an uncanny resembles to her. Nurse’s sister, subsequently, made mention of the resemblance to her father, who pursued the possible clue and discovered that it was in fact his long lost daughter.
Nurse has chosen to continue living with the man that she considered to be her father since her abduction. In response to interviews regarding her choice, she voiced her concern for the man that she, for 19 years, believed to be her biological father.
“How would you feel as a father, desperately broken but still finds the goodness to support his family,” Zephany is quoted as saying.
Prior to the verdict, the man who raised her also voiced concern for his family, urging the state not to destroy a family by imprisoning his wife.
Solomon noted that this new reality will have a severe psycho-social impact on Zephany, which may affect her identity in terms of; “who she is, who does she belong to, and her familial identity.”
The identity of family, Solomon assets, is one that is very important and shapes an individual’s overall personal identity, sense of belonging, culture and heritage.
“That in itself is something that she will have to come to terms with.”
He further noted that the process of providing testimony and being interviewed by various individuals may have an adverse impact on her psyche and add to what is already a traumatic experience. The exposure that the media has given the case, Solomon asserts, may have also affected her ability to continue living normally.
Importantly, Solomon said the exposure to a completely new family may have also added to her sense of belonging. Her choice to continue living with the man that raised her attests to the fact that her attachment to the family with whom she was raised reflects her sense of belonging and familial bond.
Solomon stated her entry into, what to Zephany is considered, a new family, may not be the romantic story that one would imagine. It is a story of challenging relationship building, as well as building on 19 years of lost shared-experiences.
He, therefore, believes the judge has made a sound decision in finding the accused guilty.
Solomon explained that Zephany has received counselling, inclusive of legal counsel.
“This is a fascinating story, which would in itself; draw the interest of neighbours and the community,” he notes.
Solomon, however, urged the community and the media to keep in mind that the Zephany case is one that includes “a real family, a real story, and a real situation.” He, therefore, implores community members to afford the family, specifically Zephany Nurse, respect and privacy.
“Zephany is still going through a lot of childhood emotion, and that needs to be respected.”
He concluded by imploring society to realize that kidnapping, abduction, as well as illegal adoption, is a “very, very serious offence.”