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Sun Jul 31 00:42:04 SAST 2016

Zephany: Kidnapper's 'fairy tale' to end in agony

Philani Nombembe | 11 March, 2016 00:37
DAY OF ECSTASY: Zephany Nurse's biological mother, Celeste, leaves the Cape Town Magistrate's Court where the woman accused of kidnapping the girl was found guilty
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER

Zephany Nurse's biological parents rejoiced yesterday after the woman who kidnapped their baby 18 years ago was convicted.

But now begins the real struggle: fostering a relationship with a daughter they spent nearly two decades searching for.

Cape Town Judge President John Hlophe convicted the 51-year-old woman of kidnapping, fraud and contravention of the Children's Act. Zephany's biological parents, Celeste and Mornè, declined to comment after the hearing but their families said they were ecstatic.

Mornè's mother, Zephra, said the next step for the family was to nurture a relationship with Zephany.

"She must just come," she said. "We're waiting patiently because we're her biological family."

But Morne's uncle, Clarence Sergers, was cautious.

He said it would take "a lot of time" to forge a bond between Zephany and her parents.

Joan van Niekerk, the president of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, said Zephany might not immediately bond with her parents and siblings.

"Her biological parents will need a lot of help," he said.

Criminal law expert Marcello Stevens said the woman could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for the crime. Correctional supervision could also be an option.

Convicting the woman, who cannot be named to protect Zephany, Judge President Hlophe said her story was implausible.

"Your story, if anything, is a fairy tale," he said.

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