'I believed she was my child and she looks like me' says man who raised Zephany
The man who raised Zephany Nurse believing she was his biological daughter said he was shocked to discover that she was not his child, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.
“I’m devastated. I‘m broken,” the man said.
He cannot be named as it could reveal the teenager's identity. He said he was proud when he saw the infant for the first time.
“It was a joy to see the baby,” he said.
His wife, a 51-year-old Lavender Hill woman, is on trial facing charges of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act. She has pleaded not guilty.
The husband said he believed the child looked like them.
“She is light in complexion, my colour. I believed she was my child and she looks like me. She resembled my side of the family.”
He said his wife acted “like a mother should with a child” and the baby was always lying on her breast. He conceded he never saw his wife breastfeed the baby.
While his wife’s stomach was “big”, it never grew to the size that State witness Shireen Piet had indicated in her testimony, he said.
Piet, who was in the same maternity ward as Zephany's biological mother, previously said she had seen a woman who looked like the accused on the day of the abduction.
He said his wife never had blonde hair with grey streaks, as Piet had said when compiling the identikit.
As far as he understood, his wife had carried the baby to full term and had a normal birth.
When he found out in September 1997 that his then-girlfriend was pregnant, he was happy. They bought things for the baby. He was not aware that she suffered a miscarriage that December.
He only found out the child was not his when the police arrived at their home on February 25 last year.
The woman had told the court she adopted the baby. She never told him about this, the man testified.
The woman said she got the baby from a woman called Sylvia, who had given her fertility treatment after her miscarriage.
Sylvia arranged for the baby to be handed to her at Wynberg station without her prior knowledge, she had previously testified.
She said she was surprised because she had expected to meet to discuss the adoption process.
Sylvia claimed she knew of a woman who did not want to keep her baby because the pregnancy was unplanned. The accused testified the woman said the paperwork would be arranged later and she signed documents including an “adoption application”.
She claimed to have never seen or heard from Sylvia again.
Six years later, the accused said she received a birth certificate by post with the name she chose for the baby.
Morne Nurse, the child’s biological father, collected evidence for a month after he met the teenager, when his daughter told him a girl at her school bore a striking resemblance to her.
After collecting his daughter Cassidy and the then 17-year-old from Zwaanswyk High in January 2015, he took the two friends to lunch. She she told him her date of birth – April 30, 1997. This was the date his daughter was abducted.
She told Nurse she did not look like her parents. When he told her she looked just like him and his daughter, she burst out laughing.
He backed off as he did not want to scare her, but "scrutinised" her Facebook account and printed photos of her as she had grown up.
Nurse said he sent a photo of the girl and her mother to Piet, who claimed to have seen the suspected abductor on the day Zephany was snatched from her sleeping mother. Piet said she recognised the woman.
DNA tests later confirmed the teenager was Zephany.
The State and defence are expected to deliver their closing arguments on Wednesday.