Cape Town – A South African woman has been sentenced to 10 years in imprisonment for kidnapping a three day old baby and raising her as her own child 19 years ago.
The 51-year-old woman was arrested in 2015 after people noticed an uncanny resemblance between the girl, Zephany Nurse, and another girl at school.
DNA tests carried out by police then proved that the two girls were sisters.
Zephany Nurse was kidnapped from her mother’s hospital room in 1997. She was given a new name by her kidnapper, which – like her abductor’s name — has not been made public, to protect Zephany’s privacy.
Her biological mother and father celebrated Zephany’s birthday every year. But years passed without any leads on the kidnapping.
The woman who raised Zephany Nurse was charged with kidnapping.
“The trial dragged on for more than a year, and the case has captivated large swaths of South Africa,” Granitz says.
Now the case has ended with a conviction — but no confession.
Judge John Hlophe told the defendant she had “betrayed” Zephany by her actions.
Judge Hlophe criticized the kidnapper for sticking to her story that she had bought the baby from a woman who told her that the biological parents did not want the child.
“‘At the very least, one would expect you to apologize, but you chose not to,’ the African News Agency quoted Hlophe as saying.
According to media reports, Zephany Nurse — under the name she has used for the past 19 years — is now living with her kidnapper’s husband, whom she believed was her biological father, the AP reports.
Local media have previously reported that Zephany does not wish to have a relationship with her biological parents and considers the woman who kidnapped her as her mother.
She has decided to continue living with her abductor’s husband, whom she grew up believing to be her father, BBC reports.
Outside the court, Zephany’s biological grandmother Marilyn Francis said she was not happy with the length of the sentence, but hoped that the family would now have a chance to bond and form a relationship with Zephany.