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#ZephanyNurse accused: ‘I was desperate’

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“Yes, I was desperate. But not desperate enough to steal a baby.” This was the testimony of a Lavender Hill woman on trial in the Western Cape High Court for kidnapping baby Zephany Nurse 19 years ago.

The soft-spoken seamstress, whose identity is being withheld to protect the new identity of the girl whom she raised as her own, has pleaded not guilty to fraud, kidnapping and contravening sections of the Children’s Act.

During gruelling cross-examination on Monday, the usually timid woman explained to State prosecutor Evadne Kortje it was not in her nature to “steal children”.She reiterated statements made in her plea explanation and denied she took Zephany from a maternity ward at Groote Schuur Hospital on April 30,

She reiterated statements made in her plea explanation and denied she took Zephany from a maternity ward at Groote Schuur Hospital on April 30, 1997 while the child’s biological mother, Celeste Nurse, was recovering from a c-section.

For the first time since the start of the trial, the 51-year-old woman gave a description of Sylvia, the woman she claims handed her Zephany at a train station in Wynberg.

The court also heard the woman deliberately lied to her friends, family and husband about being pregnant. She carried on the ruse for five months, even after a doctor confirmed she had miscarried her child in 1996.

She said she kept the secret in the hopes that the fertility treatment, supplied by Sylvia, or the adoption, would produce a baby.

She said she met Sylvia in the waiting room at Tygerberg Hospital while undergoing gynaecological treatment for “infertility” in 1996.


She said the woman, who did not produce any accreditation or divulge any personal information, addressed other women in the waiting room.

“(Sylvia) was a short, older-looking woman. Older than what we (other woman in the waiting room at Tygerberg) were at the time.

“She was in her early 40s. She had brown skin and her hair was short,” the woman said.

Kortje led the woman to admit that at the time of accepting Sylvia’s proposition of fertility treatment and “adoption”, she was not yet diagnosed as a person suffering from infertility because she had fallen pregnant and miscarried before.

“Why were you so desperate for a baby, why did you have to have a baby then?” asked Kortje.

The woman explained she paid Sylvia a deposit of R800 for the fertility treatment, which consisted of a course of five tablets, and only later met with her in Cape Town again to discuss the possibility of what she thought was adoption at the time.

The woman, however, admitted she paid for Zephany by giving Sylvia the outstanding amount of R2 200 for the “completion of the adoption process”.

Kortje then inquired about the “criteria” of the child she would be adopting, and the woman replied there weren’t any.

“Surely you would not have taken a two-year-old baby if you were pretending to be pregnant? What would (your husband) have said?” asked Kortje.

It was then that the woman revealed that her husband was unaware she had lost the baby in December 1996, because, “they (her friends, family and husband) believed I was just fat”.

The woman is currently out on R5 000 bail.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe adjourned proceedings to allow the State to prepare for further cross-examination on Tuesday.

[Source: Cape Argus]
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