‘We got justice, but lost Zephany’
Cape Town - The Nurse family say they may have finally got justice, but they have lost their kidnapped child – again.
Zephany Nurse, who was stolen from Groote Schuur Hospital in 1997 when she was just three days old, has not visited her biological family for four months.
The teenager is also fighting to keep the name she grew up with, and doesn’t want to be known as Zephany Nurse.
Her father Morne Nurse says his 18-year-old daughter has chosen to stay with the kidnapper and her family, and has blocked him on her cellphone.
Last Thursday, the 51-year old Lavender Hill resident was convicted of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act, each charge carrying a maximum 10-year jail sentence.
The next day, Zephany spent the day with her “father”, the kidnapper’s husband.
The man who raised Zephany as his own daughter says she was devastated when she heard her “mommy” had been found guilty.
The 48-year-old told the Daily Voice on Sunday that the judgment has hit them hard.
“She was broken, me also, she took the news hard,” he said.
“We are scared she might get a long prison term… we are trying to cope with life without my wife but it’s hard, she did everything for us, it is a daily adjustment for us.”
In an interview with UK newspaper Daily Mail, Morne said Zephany hasn’t visited her biological family since November.
He said: “I got my daughter back and now I’ve lost her all over again, and it is just as painful this time around, maybe even more so.”
He said he was so desperate to see his child that he has even gone to the kidnapper’s house, but no one opens the door for him.
“That kidnapping mother is a wicked, wicked woman, who has filled her head with ideas which have deprived us of the chance of getting to know Zephany,” he added.
Morne Nurse also blamed the kidnapping for straining his marriage, which led to divorce a couple of years ago.
Asked if Zephany has shunned the family, the kidnapper’s husband said: “I don’t want to speak for her; she will come out one day and talk about how she feels about everything, including how they have taken away her mother from her.”
The woman admitted she had been desperate for a child, but insisted she did not snatch the newborn from hospital.
Instead, she stuck to her story that she had been handed an infant at Wynberg train station by a woman working for a mysterious “Sylvia” – a claim dismissed by Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlope as a “fairytale” .
Sentencing is set down for May 30.
Meanwhile, Zephany’s lawyers are prepared to take legal action to help her keep the name given to her by her kidnapper.
The girl, who turns 19 next month, goes by another name and surname which cannot be published, as instructed by a court order.
During the kidnapping trial, a Home Affairs official said because Zephany was registered twice on the population register, only her real name will be kept.
But Professor Ann Skelton of the Centre for Child Law described this as “nonsense”, and said they would go to court to let Zephany keep her current identity.
Zephany’s “father” said the decision to keep her name was up to her.
“I just want to be there for her, this includes whether or not she wants her biological family in her life,” he said.
The teen has been doing supplementary exams after faring poorly in her matric exam last year.
The man added: “Her last exam is on Tuesday, this has been stressful for her, but she is coping.”