Catherine Rice

The man who believed he was Zephany Nurse’s biological father for almost 20 years told the Western Cape High Court he is a broken man.

“I’m devastated, I’m broken, I’m shocked,” he testified on Tuesday in the sensational kidnapping trial that has made world headlines.

The man’s wife, who is the accused but cannot be named to protect the new identity of Zephany Nurse, has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act.

The Lavender Hill woman has admitted that she lied to her partner, and later husband, about a miscarriage she had in December 1996.

Her husband took the stand on Tuesday and told the court it “was a joy to see my child”.

He insisted that the accused never told him of her miscarriage, nor that the child had been “adopted”.

He also believed the child looked like him and the accused: “Her forehead was like the accused’s and she had my lighter complexion.”

He said that the first time he found out that the child was not his own, was in February last year when the accused was arrested, and DNA tests confirmed that the teenager was the missing Zephany Nurse.

Prosecutor Evadne Kortje asked him if they had discussed baby names before the birth of the child, and he replied that they had.

He said: “I could see her body was changing. Her stomach changed. We bought stuff for the child.”

When Kortje put it to him that if Cassidy Nurse (Zephany Nurse’s biological sister) had never started high school at the same school as Zephany Nurse (she was in matric at the time) early last year, he would never have known the truth. He agreed and battled to hold back tears.

But outside the Western Cape High Court, Morne Nurse had little sympathy for the man or the accused who had earlier apologised to the Nurse family for what they went through “all these years”.

“The apology came a bit too late. I think if I had been in her shoes I would have apologised on day one already,” he said.

The soft-spoken woman earlier testified that she did not tell him the truth as she believed a woman called Sylvia, whom she met at Tygerberg hospital, would help her fall pregnant again with fertility pills.

She told the court that she paid an R800 deposit for fertility tablets, but when those failed to work she opted for adoption.

She claimed that she arranged to meet Sylvia on April 30, 1997 to discuss the adoption process at the Wynberg train station, but Sylvia failed to show up and instead a stranger arrived.

That stranger gave her a newborn baby and told her to go to Retreat hospital and call Sylvia from there.

The accused admitted that she did not tell her family about the adoption, and allowed them to assume that she was the biological mother of the baby she brought home that day.

Judge President John Hlophe postponed the case until Wednesday for final arguments and is expected to deliver judgement on Thursday.

African News Agency