Betrayed 'Zephany Nurse' is battling to trust again

The woman who was stolen as a baby tells the story of coming to terms with 'The Truth' of being the daughter of two families

18 August 2019 - 00:00 By DAVE CHAMBERS
Miche Solomon, born Zephany Nurse as she looks today.
Miche Solomon, born Zephany Nurse as she looks today.
Image: NB Publishers

Thank your lucky stars you’re not Zephany Nurse.

In the last four-and-a-half years, the 22-year-old Capetonian — who is very clear her name is actually Miché Solomon — has:

  • Discovered that her mother kidnapped her as a newborn;
  • Been the target of persistent, intrusive media attention;
  • Arrived in a biological family who attempted to exploit her;
  • Watched her mother go to prison;
  • Dropped out of matric, then re-enrolled and achieved a bachelor’s pass;
  • Accidentally fallen pregnant twice, by different men;
  • Discovered that the father of her first child is already married and kicked him out;
  • Considered abortion, twice, and adoption once;
  • Broken up with the father of her second child before the baby was born; and
  • Had two babies who she is raising as a single mother. 

It’s not surprising that some of the women who have stuck by Solomon — revealed this week as the woman at the centre of the Zephany Nurse stolen-baby affair — were worried.

“I do think she’ll remain vulnerable until she starts really getting her life in order and she has direction,” said Childline founder Joan van Niekerk, who is Solomon’s therapist.

Speaking to Joanne Jowell, author of Solomon’s biography, Zephany, Van Niekerk said she and the young woman’s lawyer, Ann Skelton, “found it difficult” when Solomon fell pregnant for the second time in January 2018, less than a year after the birth of her first child, Sofia.

“[Miché and I] talked a lot about the pregnancy and her not meaning for it to happen, but perhaps at a deeper level it was about Miché wanting to be loved for her own sake and not because she was perhaps a cash cow for her family of origin,” said Van Niekerk.

Celeste Nurse holding Zephany after she was born.
Celeste Nurse holding Zephany after she was born.

Solomon admitted to eNCA interviewer Annika Larsen on Thursday that her pregnancies happened at a time when she was in “a dark space”, and when her mother was not there to guide her.

But she said the publication of her biography marked the beginning of a journey that she was determined would bring hope to others facing emotional turmoil.

Jowell told the Sunday Times that in the six months or so since the book was completed, and with a second child to raise as a single mother, she had seen a change in Solomon.

“She is determined to finally get her chance to study further, and is about to embark on the application process,” said Jowell.

“With all that she has been through, and with a powerful calling to use her experiences to help others, she will certainly choose a career in social welfare or the human behavioural sciences.”

Skelton said what Solomon had been through had been harder than anyone had predicted.

“I became concerned about Miché’s vulnerability, despite how strong she appeared,” she said.

Learning to trust will be at the centre of Solomon’s recovery from the trauma she had been through, said Van Niekerk.

“Of course she will have trust issues from the point of view of Lavona [the woman jailed for 10 years in 2016 for stealing her as a newborn from the maternity ward at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town], who lied to her for her whole life.

Lavona Solomon and Miche on Christmas Day when she was five-years-old.
Lavona Solomon and Miche on Christmas Day when she was five-years-old.

“But also trust in terms of her biological parents’ behaviour — that’s been the double whammy. One would really like Morné and Celeste [Nurse] to have been more consistent in just saying, ‘We found our beloved daughter, we’re going to try and understand all of this that we’ve been thrust into, and love her for who she is’. But there’s a sense of Miché not being loved for who she is from that side.”

Jowell said Van Niekerk’s support would be crucial in Solomon learning to trust again.

“Miché can, and must, use her relationship with her counsellor as a bedrock for other interpersonal relationships,” she said.

“She has lost two mothers, and her own sense of self. While she has come a long way to resolving some of that, she can only benefit from the guidance, interpretation, reflection and acceptance of a professional like Joan.”

Sophie Botha, who was Solomon’s Afrikaans teacher at Zwaanswyk High School in Retreat, said the Nurses “liked the limelight. They wanted to feature and they wanted money”.

Botha, who was one of the key people Solomon turned to for advice after learning “The Truth” — the term Solomon uses for the revelation that she was Zephany — said: “As a mother, I thought that was so sad. It was sickening to see what this child was going through with these people.

“Everyone was in it for themselves. To me, they were like vultures, motivated by greed and fame, using the situation to their benefit.”

When Solomon fell pregnant for a second time in January 2018, said Botha, she felt it was a development that said: “I want somebody to love me and I trust them and I sleep with them and I think this is love.”

Michael Solomon, the man Miche grew up knowing as a her father at the beach with her when she was eight-months-old.
Michael Solomon, the man Miche grew up knowing as a her father at the beach with her when she was eight-months-old.

Solomon ended the relationship three months before the birth of her son Matteo in September 2018, telling Jowell: “I started regaining my senses. I did feel bad for how harshly I was reacting, but a lot of people broke my trust and I wasn’t about to let that happen again.

“He tried hard to show me that he was there for me, but it’s going to take a lot more for someone to show me they truly care. It’s just sad that [he] is paying for it.”

Said Jowell: “Although the majority of [Solomon’s] young life was spent in the stable surrounds of a loving family, the trauma of the past four years since she learnt The Truth has been formative, and has left Miché with an understandable mistrust of … well … anything that moves.”

The Nurses refused to speak to Jowell and have not responded to repeated Sunday Times requests for comment.

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