A woman has been jailed for 10 years for kidnapping a newborn baby and raising her for almost two decades before she was reunited with her family, according to local media reports.The 52-year-old South African- who cannot be named to protect the new identity of the kidnapped girl – took the then three-day-old child from her sleeping mother in hospital on 30 March, 1997.
Witnesses said they saw an unknown woman in a nurse’s uniform at the hospital around the time the girl vanished. One of them picked out the accused at an identity parade. The woman had pleaded not guilty, saying that following a miscarriage in December 1996 she was given the baby at a Cape Town railway station after entering into a private “adoption” programme.
The girl’s biological mother, Celeste Nurse, cried in court as she described how she woke up in the maternity ward at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town to discover her baby had disappeared. The girl’s true identity was revealed last February, when her younger biological sister started attending the same school and pupils pointed out her remarkable likeness to a final-year student.
The younger girl told her parents, who met the older girl and immediately thought she was their long-lost child, who they had named Zephany Joy Nurse. They called the police, and DNA tests confirmed their suspicions. Without realising, the Nurse family had been living within a couple of miles of their kidnapped daughter, celebrating her birthday every year and never giving up hope of one day finding her.