News Africa

Sunday 11 December 2016

Families tussle outside court as woman who kidnapped newborn baby from maternity hospital and raised her is jailed for 10 years

Published 15/08/2016 | 10:23

Morne Nurse (C), the biological father of Zephany Nurse, reacts after the woman who kidnapped his daughter Zephany in 1997 was sentenced to ten years imprisonment at the Cape Town High Court, South Africa, August 15, 2016
Morne Nurse (C), the biological father of Zephany Nurse, reacts after the woman who kidnapped his daughter Zephany in 1997 was sentenced to ten years imprisonment at the Cape Town High Court, South Africa, August 15, 2016
Morne, left, and Celeste Nurse, the biological parents of the South African born kidnapped child Zephany Nurse, embrace each other after court proceedings in Cape Town , South Africa, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016
Celeste Nurse, the biological mother of Zephany Nurse, reacts after the woman who kidnapped her baby Zephany in 1997 was sentenced to ten years imprisonment at the Cape Town High Court, South Africa. August 15, 2016.
Celeste Nurse, right facing, the biological mother of the South African born kidnapped child Zephany Nurse, embraces a family member after court proceedings in Cape Town, South Africa, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016
Celeste Nurse (C), the biological mother of Zephany Nurse, reacts after the woman who kidnapped her baby Zephany in 1997 was sentenced to ten years imprisonment at the Cape Town High Court, South Africa. August 15, 2016
Celeste Nurse, the biological mother of Zephany Nurse, gestures to the photographer after the woman who kidnapped her baby Zephany in 1997 was sentenced to ten years imprisonment at the Cape Town High Court, South Africa, August 15, 2016
Zephany Nurse was taken three days after being born
Celeste Nurse, the mother of a girl who was kidnapped nearly 19 years ago in Cape Town. Photo: AP

A South African woman who snatched baby Zephany Nurse from hospital nearly 20 years ago has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

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The woman had pleaded not guilty during her trial, claiming she believed she had legally adopted Zephany 19 years ago. She was found guilty of kidnap in March this year.

Read More: The chance meeting that exposed a kidnap mystery lasting 19 years

At her sentencing on Monday Judge John Hlope in Cape Town said the crimes committed by the woman were serious, but that he had taken into account her previously clean record and other mitigating circumstances in deciding the sentence, according to News24.

Zephany's biological parents Celeste and Morne Nurse attended court on Monday for sentencing, but their daughter did not.

The kidnappers relatives and the birth family of the girl – who has become known as South Africa’s Madeleine McCann – engaged in scuffles after the hearing in Cape Town.

The story of Zephany, kidnapped at just three days old, has gripped South Africa for the last 20 years

Zephany was three days old when she was snatched from a Cape Town hospital while her mother was asleep in April 1997, state prosecutors said.

The kidnapper then defrauded authorities by registering the child as her own daughter in 2003 under a false birthdate, prosecutors added.

Zephany, who is publicly known by a different name which has been protected by the courts, was reunited with her biological parents Morne and Celeste Nurse last year, and a 51-year-old woman was arrested.

Zephany’s true identity was discovered last year when she was found to bear a remarkable resemblance to a girl she had befriended at school.

Local media has previously reported that Zephany considers the woman who kidnapped her as her mother and does not wish to have a relationship with her birth parents, the BBC reported.

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