ZEPHANY Nurse has just turned 14, a day marked every year by her parents and three younger siblings. Yet she has never been present for any of the parties.
Tomorrow is 14 years since Zephany was snatched from Groote Schuur Hospital when she was just three days old. Her mother Celeste remembered a woman dressed in a nurse’s outfit holding the baby, but fell asleep soon afterwards because of her pain medication.
When she awoke, her baby was missing.
Police investigations into the disappearance are now being handled by the organised crime unit.
In July 2009, the Nurse family received an anonymous phone call from a woman who claimed she had information about Zephany.
She wanted R5 000 for her help.
The woman never showed up, but Glenda Doubell – who lived in the same street as the child’s grandmother – was arrested and confessed to the prank call.
She was fined R5 000 and ordered to do 300 hours of community service, along with three years of house arrest.
Yesterday the girl’s parents, Celeste and Morné, along with their three children, Micah, 3, Joshua, 5, and Cassidy, 10, honoured her birthday.
The three children have never met Zephany, but they all know about their older sister, and that she was kidnapped.
Celeste said the tragedy had resulted in her being overprotective of her other three children, who, she said, she never let out of her sight.
She said they often asked why they could not ride their bicycles around the corner in their gated community. She explained to them that children get kidnapped, and she did not want anything to happen to them.
When Celeste woke up yesterday morning, she reminded Morné to wish Zephany a happy birthday.
Each year, Pick n Pay in Constantia supplies the family with a birthday cake for the missing girl.
This year it was a huge chocolate cake. “Happy Birthday Zephany, we miss you”, the fresh cream letters read.
“We do this every year to show that we haven’t forgotten about her,” said Morné.
In his heart, he believes that she is safe, happy and being well cared for.
Even though 14 years have passed, Celeste still feels the bond to her daughter.
“There was a smell on her when she was born. I smelled it the other day. I still feel our connection.”
Morné and Celeste said faith and hope were what had carried them through the years.
Celeste said that she forgave the person who took her child a long time ago.
“So now the only decent thing she can do is bring her back home. It’s been long enough,” she pleaded.