Years of hurt & love: The Zephany Nurse story, from her perspective

06 August 2019 - 09:37 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Zephany Nurse's biological parents, Celeste and Morne, after being reunited with their daughter in 2015.
Zephany Nurse's biological parents, Celeste and Morne, after being reunited with their daughter in 2015.
Image: Esa Alexander

Zephany Nurse, the teenager who caught the world's imagination after being discovered by her biological family 14 years after she was stolen, is ready to tell her story.

Her true identity has never been known, but Zephany, now 22, has applied to have the order on restrictions around her name lifted. She's written a book detailing her life and says she is ready for the world to know her story.

Here's what you need to know.

A family's horror story

In 2015, South Africans were introduced to then 17-year-old Zephany. She and her biological sister attended the same school and became friends, without them knowing they were related. After repeated comments on their striking similarities, Zephany's sister introduced her to her parents.

Morne Nurse, Zephany's biological father, alerted police to his suspicions that she was his daughter, who had been stolen years before. 

A DNA test confirmed his suspicions. The woman Zephany grew up thinking was her mother was charged with contravening the Children's Act, fraud and kidnapping. 

Her biological family's response

Zephany's biological aunt told TimesLIVE in 2015 that they always had faith that their child was alive. "We knew. We always knew she was alive. She was a beautiful baby. I will never forget her face."

Her kidnapper's reaction 

The couple whom Zephany believed to be her real parents spoke to eNCA in an exclusive interview. The woman denied she had kidnapped Zephany. She insisted she had paid a woman named Sylvia R3,000 for Zephany, who was handed to her at a train station.

She said she believed she was adopting the child legally.

The man Zephany believed to be her father told the station he was shattered when he learnt the truth about her, but said she would always remain his daughter and he would take care of his wife, even after finding out the truth. 

Family reunion

Zephany's biological mother, Celeste Nurse, told Heart FM in 2016 that she was happy when she saw all four of her children interact for the first time. She said Zephany's brother always asked about her.

"This is tough on all three of my kids, especially my son, who talks about her and cries." 

Writing a book

Zephany told Netwerk24 that she is ready to be known and to tell her story. 

The first step towards revealing her identity began with an application to have the interim interdict that dictates her identity be hidden, scrapped. 

"It would have been worse if my identity was known to the public when I was younger and paraded in court."

Book release

Details of her book, such as its title and contents, have not been made public yet. She told Netwerk24 that instead of using her birth name, she will use the name she was given by the woman she believed to be her mother. 

The book is due for release this month.