Cape Town – The family of the woman jailed for kidnapping Zephany Nurse have vowed to stand by her “150 percent”.
On Monday, the 52-year-old woman was sentenced to an effective 10 years behind bars for kidnapping, fraud and contravention of the Children’s Act.
Outside the Western Cape High Court, emotions ran high as a scuffle broke out between the Nurse family and the family of the kidnapper.
The sister of Morne Nurse, biological father of Zephany Nurse, said the woman’s family had insulted her.
Chantall Berry said: “This guy came and said he will smack the glasses from my face. They want to go on. She belongs to us. She has our DNA. Her DNA will never change.”
A family member of the kidnapper, who asked not to be named, said: “Obviously there are emotions flying around. We are human. You can imagine. The bottom line is the family is more worried about Zephany.”
She said the court had said the accused was not remorseful, but “the first thing that comes out of her mind is that she is so sorry for Zephany, for the things that happened”.
The public gallery was packed in courtroom 1 as Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe told the Lavender Hill woman that the pain she had caused the Nurse family had been “immense”.
He said: “At the very least one would expect you to apologise, but you chose not to.”
The woman has stuck to her story that she had bought Zephany from a woman called Sylvia who had told her the child was not wanted by her biological parents.
Hlophe dismissed her version as a “fairytale” when he convicted her in March, instead finding that she had snatched Zephany from her mother’s hospital bedside on April 30, 1997.
On Monday, he said: “You said you had bought the child – you are the first to do so in the world.”
The accused’s family blew kisses to her as she was led down to holding cells after sentencing.
Zephany’s true identity was revealed early last year when her younger biological sister started high school at the same school as her. When classmates commented on the siblings’ striking resemblance the younger sister told her father, Morne Nurse.
After conducting his own investigations, he contacted the Hawks. DNA tests confirmed she was indeed the child they had been searching for for almost two decades.
The teenager has not been allowed contact with the accused since her arrest, but has been living with the kidnapper’s husband and the man she believed was her biological father.
During argument in aggravation of sentence, her biological parents said their relationship with Zephany was strained.
Outside court on Monday, maternal grandmother, Marilyn Francis told reporters that Zephany was in contact with her biological mother, Celeste Nurse, and had contacted Celeste on her birthday on Sunday to wish her.
The teen’s biological father Morne Nurse said after sentencing that “healing could now begin” and that he was glad the case was finally over.