'I didn't think straight', says Zephany Nurse accused


The trial of the woman accused of abducting Zephany Nurse 19 years ago continues in court on Monday.

CAPE TOWN - The woman accused of  kidnapping Zephany Nurse admitted to the Western Cape High Court on Monday that she lied to her family and her partner about a miscarriage she had in December 1996.

The Lavender Hill woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of Zephany Nurse, who is now known by the name given to her by the accused, was being cross-examined in a trial that has made international headlines.

State prosecutor Evadne Kortje put it to the woman that she had “created the impression” that she was still pregnant despite a doctor confirming a miscarriage in December 1996.

The accused admitted that she had not told her partner, or her siblings who lived with her, that she had miscarried.

“I didn’t think straight at that time,” she said

She further told the court that she had visited a doctor at Tygerberg Hospital when she miscarried, and then again in January 1997.

According to the accused, she met a woman called Sylvia who offered to help her with her fertility problems or with an adoption process. When she met Sylvia for the second time she gave her R800 as a deposit for a fertility programme that was to cost R3,000. She was given five tablets, she testified.

Prosecutor Evadne Kortje was incredulous: “You were given tablets for five days? Five tablets for R800 in 1997?”

The accused said she could not recall Sylvia’s surname and no longer had her telephone number.

The business card that she had been given simply had Sylvia’s name, the word "Fertility", and Sylvia’s landline number. The accused said the phone number had also been “lost somehow”.

At one point, the accused burst out: “It’s not in my nature to steal children.”

The prosecutor said “We are not there yet” and returned to the issue of her having lied to her family about her pregnancy.

The accused said she had not discussed her pregnancy with her partner at all in the almost five months before she brought Zephany home.

She told the court that she did not buy any baby clothes after her miscarriage in December.

The prosecutor asked how her family could have believed she was pregnant when she wasn’t, and she insisted they had simply assumed she was pregnant.

“My stomach was still there. I was fat.”

She told the court that she had believed the tablets she was given would help her fall pregnant again.

But the prosecutor asked: “You would have been four months behind now in your pregnancy, how are you going to fix that?”

The accused replied: “I was fat at the time”.

The public gallery was packed with members of the Nurse family, many of whom were wearing specially designed red T-shirts. The words “If God is for us who can be against us” were emblazoned on the back of the shirts, as well as “Justice will prevail”.

Nurse was abducted from her mother’s bedside at Groote Schuur Hospital almost two decades ago and only a twist of fate led to the discovery of her real identity.

The discovery was made in February last year when her biological sister started high school at the same school as her.

Classmates noticed their striking resemblance, and when the younger sister told her father, Morne Nurse, he began his own investigation.

His suspicions that the matric teenager was his long-lost daughter were confirmed when the Hawks investigated and DNA tests confirmed that she was the biological daughter of Celeste and Morne Nurse.