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Sat May 28 15:50:12 CAT 2016

'Let her feel the pain, too'

Philani Nombembe | 01 March, 2016 06:23
Outside the court, the kidnapped girl's biological father, Morné, responded: 'The emotions she is feeling now, we have been feeling for 18 years. I think it's time for her to feel what it feels like.' File photo
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER

"I think it's time for her to feel what it feels like."

This was the response of Morné Nurse after the woman accused of kidnapping his newborn baby and raising her as her own for 17 years wept when she described her arrest and how the child had been removed from her care.

It was the first time the 50-year-old woman, who has pleaded not guilty, had shown emotion in the trial in the Cape Town High Court.

She was arrested on February 26 last year after DNA tests had shown she was not the baby's biological mother. She was barred from seeing the girl again.

"That was the last time I saw her," she said, before her face crumpled and she broke into sobbing.

Outside the court, the kidnapped girl's biological father, Morné, responded: "The emotions she is feeling now, we have been feeling for 18 years. I think it's time for her to feel what it feels like."

The accused cannot be named to protect the identity of the kidnapped girl.

Taking the stand yesterday, the woman insisted she had adopted the child but failed to furnish the court with proof.

Calm and seemingly confident, she stared directly at Western Cape Judge-President John Hlophe as she stated her case.

She pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, fraud and contravention of the Children's Act.

Last week she said a woman she knew as "Sylvia" had given her the child and had told her that "a young girl was not interested in keeping her baby and wanted to give it up for adoption". She said she paid Sylvia R3000 for the adoption and fertility treatment.

Her testimony was based on her plea explanation. But her version prompted Hlophe to question her further.

The judge asked if she had attempted to establish who the child's real parents were, whether she had the adoption documents and whether she had contacted Sylvia after her arrest.

"I didn't go out to look for her [Zephany's mother] because I didn't know where the child was born or where the mother was from," the woman responded.

She said she could not contact Sylvia because she had lost her phone number. Neither could she find the receipts Sylvia gave her for the transaction.

She broke down when she recalled the day Zephany was taken away from her, February 25 last year.

The court adjourned to allow her to regain her composure.

Zephany was reunited with her biological parents, Celeste and Morné Nurse, last year after her sister, Cassidy, had enrolled at Zephany's school and their simi-larity led to an investigation.

The state claims the woman snatched Zephany from Groote Schuur Hospital on April 30 1997. The trial was postponed to Monday for cross-examination.

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