ZEPHANY NURSE'S biological mother made a swift escape from the Western Cape High Court yesterday while a clash erupted between the two families.
Judge President John Hlophe sentenced the 52-year-old woman to 10 years' imprisonment for snatching Zephany Nurse from hospital in 1997 and raising her as her own.
After court adjourned one of the kidnapper’s relatives allegedly threatened Zephany’s biological aunt.
As heated words were exchanged, Celeste Nurse, her mother Marilyn and a friend hastily walked to their car parked about 200m from the commotion.
Celeste Nurse broke down and told the Cape Times she was not happy with the sentence and nothing would bring justice for the pain she experienced.
Celeste said her relationship with her daughter was damaged and she did not know how to fix it.
“I’m upset and devastated because I’ve lost my daughter. No amount of years can bring her back.
“It’s never going to be over. She (the kidnapper) has been sentenced, but the damage has been done.
"Any mother who stands here and has children will know that if anything should happen to your child, you will never recover from that.
“Even if they gave her (the kidnapper) 50 years, it wouldn’t have repaired anything.
"She took my daughter when she was three days old – she took my baby from my arms,” Celeste said before she broke down again and her family escorted her away.
After Zephany was stolen from Groote Schuur Hospital in 1997, she went for 17 years thinking the people she lived with was her biological family, while Celeste and biological father Morné Nurse went for 18 years without knowing where their daughter was.
In a twist of fate, they were reunited with her last year after Zephany and her younger biological sister were enrolled at the same school and pupils remarked on how remarkably alike they looked.
Morné said he was happy with the sentence and his healing process could start now.
“I could not sleep for nights and being at court made me sick. I don’t ever want to come here again.
"But it was all in the State’s hands and I am over the moon with the sentence.”
Judge Hlophe said the kidnapper still showed no remorse and if she had, he would have considered that in sentencing her.
“It's very clear you caused so much harm to the Nurse family and you should not be proud of that.
"You were at least expected to apologise for that. You have also caused Zephany so much harm, who for 17 years had no idea who her biological mother was. You have betrayed her.
"The hurt you caused the Zephany Nurse family is immense.”
The woman waved to her family and shouted “bye, love you, love you” as she was led down to the cells.@FrancescaJaneV