The Western Cape High Court.
CAPE TOWN - The woman from Lavender Hill, who is alleged to have kidnapped a newborn baby at Groote Schuur Hospital 18 years ago and raised her as her own, appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Friday for a pre-trial conference.
Advocate Bonnie Currie-Gamwo, a deputy director in the Western Cape Directorate for Public Prosecutions, is to prosecute the case, while attorney Reaz Khan is to undertake the defence.
The woman, accused of kidnapping the baby, may not be named, so as to protect the new identity of the teenage girl. The woman is to be indicted on charges of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act.
Judge M J Dolamo scheduled the case to start on February 22, with the matter expected to run until March 10.
It is alleged that the woman took the baby from Groote Schuur hospital on March 30, 1997.
The baby had been born by caesarean section two days earlier.
According to the indictment, the accused befriended the baby’s mother and “convinced her to hand over her daughter so that she could sleep”.
Staff later woke the mother, Celeste, to inform her that her baby daughter was missing.
Despite a nationwide search, the child was only found earlier this year, living close to her biological parents and attending the same school as her younger biological sister.
Her biological parents have both have attended the court appearances of the accused since her arrest in February.
The girl’s younger biological sister started Grade 8 at the same school as her this year, and the two struck up a friendship after being introduced because of their remarkable resemblance.
Her parents immediately thought it could be their kidnapped daughter and informed police. Subsequent DNA tests confirmed that she was indeed their child, and the accused was arrested.
The accused is currently out on bail of R5,000 and may not have any contact with the child.