The woman convicted of kidnapping Zephany Nurse almost two decades ago has been sentenced to an effective 10 years behind bars.
Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe on Monday ordered the 52-year-old woman to stand as he told her that the harm she had caused the Nurse family had been “immense”.
He said: “It is very clear that you have caused so much harm to the Nurse family. At the very least one would expect you to apologise, but you chose not to.”
Hlophe found the Lavender Hill woman guilty of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act in March this year.
In sentencing her, Hlophe said she had shown no remorse for the premeditated crime and had pleaded not guilty, instead she had “lied to and betrayed” Zephany Nurse for 17 years.
For count one, the kidnapping charge, the accused was sentenced to fourteen years, four of which were suspended for five years.
For count two, the fraud charge, she was sentenced to five years direct imprisonment.
For count three, the contravention of the Children’s Act, she also received five years direct imprisonment.
Hlophe ordered the sentences for count two and count three to run concurrently with the sentence for count one – which means an effective ten-year sentence.
He said the woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity she gave Zephany, had stolen the infant when she was just three days old and had “all the opportunity to return her”.
Every year the Nurse family celebrated her birthday and her abduction was widely publicised, yet the accused “chose to keep Zephany away”.
He said he had taken the accused’s person circumstances into account, including her age, the fact that she was a first offender, had a history of miscarriages, and suffers from chronic medical conditions.
But Hlophe said he also had to take into account the demands of society and the fact that “crimes of this nature particularly in the Western Cape, are alarming”.
He said deterrence should play a role in sentencing: “Other people who want to kidnap may look at you.”
Zephany Nurse’s real identity was discovered last year when her younger biological sister started school at the same high school as her.
Classmates remarked on their striking resemblance, prompting Morne Nurse, her biological father to conduct his own investigations.
Nurse contacted the Hawks as his suspicions grew and DNA tests confirmed she was indeed the child they had been searching for.
Outside court, Morne Nurse told a throng of journalists: “We are very happy. I am glad it is over and done with. Now the healing can start. Ten years we’re happy with it.”
“Zephany is my daughter, she’s my DNA”.
– African News Agency (ANA)