After a protracted court process, the South African woman who kidnapped a baby girl, Zephany Nurse, at a Cape Town hospital in 1997 has been jailed for 10 years.
According to the BBC, neither the abductor’s name nor the name Zephany came to be known by can be revealed in order to protect the victim’s identity.
Delivering the ruling at Western Cape High Court Africa yesterday, Justice John Hlophe condemned the defendant’s action, saying she had “betrayed” Zephany.
The judge further criticized the accused, telling her that she had had all the time in the world to return the baby to her biological parents but chose not to, BBC reported.
“The irreparable emotional, physical, and psychological trauma experienced and still being experienced by biological parents and their families is unfathomable,” South African prosecutor Evadne Kortje told the court.
Zephany’s biological parents celebrated her birthday annually, which was publicized in the local media, giving weight to the prosecution’s argument that there is no way the defendant couldn’t have known that Zephany’s biological parents were still looking for her.
The baby snatcher, 51, was arrested in 2015 in Cape Town, after Zephany visited her friend’s family, who was struck by the strange resemblance between the two girls.
Celeste and Morne Nurse, parents of Zephany’s friend, began to question the girls’ resemblance, suspecting that Zephany could be their older daughter who was kidnapped almost a decade ago.
“The accused has a lack of empathy towards all the victims of the crimes in this matter, and she shows a lack of insight in failing to appreciate that she is not the victim in this matter,” the prosecutor added.
According to CNN, the kidnapper disguised herself as one of hospital staff and snatched three-day-old Zephany from her biological mother as she slept following a Cesarean operation.
Zephany is now 19 years of age and has publicly refused to reunite with her biological parents, saying she prefers to live with the abductor’s husband, whom she grew up believing to be her dad, according to the BBC.
In her plea, the baby snatcher argued that she, too, was a victim of circumstance, claiming that the baby was handed to her by another woman at a railway station.
But the judge dismissed her plea as a “fairy-tale”.