Families tussle outside court as woman who kidnapped newborn baby from maternity hospital and raised her is jailed for 10 years
A South African woman who snatched baby Zephany Nurse from hospital nearly 20 years ago has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.
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.
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.