#ZephanyNurse accused found guilty

Cape Town – There were emotional scenes in the Western Cape High Court when a Lavender Hill woman was found guilty of kidnapping Zephany Nurse from Groote Schuur Hospital almost 19 years ago.

The woman, who cannot be identified in order to protect the identity which Zephany now goes by, was also convicted of fraud and the Contravention of the Children's Act.

The woman accused of kidnapping Zephany Nurse almost two decades ago, seen here with her husband, has been found guilty. Picture: Brenton Geach/Cape Argus. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

Three-day-old Zephany Nurse was kidnapped from her mother’s bedside at Groote Schuur hospital on April 30, 1997.

Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe found that the evidence against the accused was overwhelming.

He also described as "remarkable" the evidence of Shireen Piet, the Mitchell's Plain woman who told the court that she had a conversation with the accused at Groote Schuur Hospital the day that Zephany was snatched.

Piet said the accused picked up her own baby after she turned her back and went to use the public telephone.

When the accused saw that she noticed the child in her arms, the accused claimed that the child had been crying.

But Piet said she could not see any signs that the child had cried.

When she later heard that Zephany had been kidnapped, she put two and two together and realised that it could have been her own child.

Piet also identified the accused from a photograph last year - 17 years after the kidnapping - and again at a police identity parade.

DNA tests later proved that the child she had in her possession was, in fact, Zephany Nurse.

Judge Hlophe said that the evidence of the biological parents, Morne and Celeste Nurse, served as corroboration for Piet's testimony as well as the DNA results.

He also described the accused's version that she paid a woman called Sylvia R3 000 for fertility treatment or adoption as "a fairytale".

"One doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to know that one does not buy babies in South Africa," he said.

Sentencing proceedings begin on May 30.

Judge Hlophe refused to extend bail, which means that the woman will have to remain behind bars.