Cape Town - The biological father of kidnapped Zephany Nurse has hit back at his former mother-in-law after she accused him of not financially supporting his children.
Speaking out for the first time about his ordeal since his long-lost daughter was found earlier this year, a furious Morne Nurse called Marilyn Francis a liar and an “unfit grandmother”.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Voice, the dad said even though he has divorced their mom, Celeste, he cares deeply about all his children, including 18-year old Zephany.
“I’ve always supported my children and always will,” he said
He also accused Marilyn of trying to drive a wedge between him and Zephany.
“This is a personal vendetta against me. Marilyn has always bad-mouthed me from the time I met Zephany [in February],” Morne said.
“She bad-mouthed me in front of Zephany, she never assisted me in any way and here I am trying to build a bond.
“Clearly we need to see who needs to grow up.”
Marilyn made her shocking comments outside the Cape Town Magistrate’s court on Tuesday, where Zephany’s alleged kidnapper, 50, appeared.
The sensational trial of the newborn who was snatched out of hospital 18 years ago has been transferred to the Western Cape High Court.
The grandmother, 54, claimed Morne doesn’t support Zephany or his other children Cassidy, 14, Joshua, nine and Micah, seven.
She said it was her daughter Celeste and her new fiancé, Justin Smit, who looked after the children.
“Morne must grow up as a father and must take care of his other children – he has four children and he does not support them financially,” she claimed.
Celeste, who announced her engagement last month, was diagnosed with cancer last year, and is now in remission.
An “overjoyed” Morne said: “God cured her and I am really happy.”
The Nurses divorced last year and Celeste and her children moved in with her mother in Delft.
Morne, who works as a sales rep, has lived a private life since Zephany was found earlier this year.
Armed with notes he had written down to explain his feelings, Morne told the Daily Voice he and Celeste have shared custody over their children.
He sees his two youngest kids every weekend, while Cassidy lives with him.
He said he decided to speak out because he didn’t want Zephany to have a bad opinion of him.
“This is purely to protect myself and my name,” Morne said.
“This is not a good thing for my daughter [Zephany], in fact for any of my kids.”
He said he only has the “utmost respect” for Celeste and her fiance, and that they have a “civil relationship”.
“As for the maintenance I am not paying, that is totally incorrect and not true,” he insists.
“I mean funds were received [from me], Celeste and I got agreements in place. So, financially I do support them.”
He is also suspicious of Marilyn being back in their lives, and accused her of “indoctrinating” Zephany against him.
“She has never been there for our family, but now with Zephany’s out coming, all of a sudden, out of the blue, she is there,” he said.
Now he claims Marilyn has been abusing his two young children.
“I actually got disturbing news from them, she drinks a lot and comes in and swears at them, cursing at them.
“On a Sunday when I have to take them home, they always cry ‘Daddy, I don’t want to go back to Delft’, so how can they call me a bad father?”
Morne said contrary to what Marilyn believes, he, Celeste and Justin actually have a good relationship, and he appreciates what they do for his children.
“I do respect them moving on with their lives as I did the same with my partner,” he said.
Morne added that the only thing he cares about now is the well-being of all his children.
“We went through a divorce which wasn’t easy for them, so it is their happiness [that counts], I love them dearly.
“I will do anything in my power to keep them happy.”
Zephany was snatched from Groote Schuur Hospital on April 30, 1997, when she was three days old.
The Seawinds woman who allegedly kidnapped her was arrested in February this year.
This was after Cassidy met Zephany at their high school in Retreat.
Noticing their striking resemblance, and Zephany’s birthday, Morne called the Hawks.
A DNA test confirmed Cassidy’s new friend was his missing daughter.Daily Voice