Cape Town File picture Celeste Nurse in hospital with Zephany before she was abducted from Groote Schuur hospital on 30 April 1997 when she was just 2 days old pix Patrick louw story Shellee Geduld

Cape Town - Friends and neighbours of the woman accused of snatching a baby out of hospital 17 years ago have revealed that she miscarried at least twice.

They say the 50-year-old woman didn’t want to go home empty-handed to disappoint her husband.

On Wednesday, the Daily Voice visited neighbours of the Lavender Hill woman who was arrested last week for kidnapping Zephany Nurse.

The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, painted a picture of her as a loving woman who loves children and cares about her community and church.

They say the family is well off and Zephany “wanted for nothing” while growing up, and they will be supporting her when she appears at the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

A close friend of the family says: “In April 1997, the woman suffered her second miscarriage and she was taken to Groote Schuur Hospital.

“She did not want to tell her husband, and that’s why she snatched Zephany from her mother’s arms.

“She took the baby to the Retreat Clinic in 11th Avenue, and from there called her husband.

“They gave that child a good life.”

Another neighbour said they were shocked to hear of the arrest, and if she did it, there must have been a “valid reason”.

The 50-year-old resident says her daughter and Zephany grew up together and attended the same primary school.

“When we found out about this in the news, my daughter was so shocked, she couldn’t believe her friend was abducted from hospital at birth, because of the bond Zephany has with her parents,” she says.

“I knew Zephany for a long time, we live close to their house, my daughter spent some weekends with that family and she always enjoyed her stay there.

“I don’t know why she would do this as she is also a converted Christian woman, but I assume the reason she took the baby that day is because she had a miscarriage and didn’t want to go home empty-handed or disappoint her husband.”

Another woman who knew Zephany since she was an infant says the alleged baby snatcher is a loving woman who was a pillar in her community.

“She would always reach out to her community and help where she could, she has a pure heart and is very sincere toward others,” said the pensioner.

“She is ... never rude to anyone, she brought up her child well and gave her everything she needed and more.”

The woman said they would stand by the family no matter what.

“She used to look after her sister’s kids also and never harmed them or Zephany, so I believe she doesn’t deserve a harsh sentence,” she says.

“What is done in the dark will be brought to light – in this case, it took 17 years to come out to the light.”

Last week, DNA tests confirmed that the suspect’s daughter is in fact Zephany Nurse.

The matric girl is currently in the care of social workers and has been in contact with her biological family.

Acordimg to the Cape Times she says she has no plans to testify against the woman who raised her as her own.

According to her social worker, provincial Social Development director Leana Goosen, Zephany wants nothing more than a normal life and to go back to school and attend her matric dance.

Goosen said on Wednesday: “She hopes to be as normal as possible for the future, without parties fighting about her, and to give her the opportunity to have as many loved ones in her life, without her having to choose between people.”

* The Centre for Child Law has requested that the identity of Zephany Nurse, as well as her suspected kidnapper, not be revealed to protect the teenager, who is still a minor. Zephany, who has been living under a different name, also does not want her identity to be revealed when she turns 18.

Daily Voice and Cape Times