A kidnapped baby has been found – 17 years later. The baby, kidnapped back in April of 1997 in South Africa, was with her parents for only a few days when she was stolen from the hospital. Now, nearly two decades later, the family has been reunited by an incredible stroke of coincidence.
Writes People.com on March 1: “Celeste and Morné Nurse only knew their daughter Zephany for three days. Born in April 1997 in South Africa, Zephany was kidnapped from Celeste’s arms while they slept in Cape Town’s Groote Schuur hospital, three days after she was born.”
The Nurses never gave up hope that Zephany would be found. Every year, the family has celebrated her birthday. This year, they will finally get to do so with her being there. Zephany, who turns 18 next month, was raised by a family who claimed that she was their biological daughter. For all of her life, she grew up only miles away from her real family, near Cape Town, South Africa.
By chance, Zephany became close friends with a girl at her school – Cassidy Nurse – who bore an uncanny resemblance to her. Despite being four years her junior, Zephany found they shared many of the same interests. The bond and physical similarities were too close to disregard; Cassidy told her parents and the Nurses invited Zephany over for a meal. They knew, at that point, that they had found their kidnapped baby girl.
Police intervened, and DNA tests were arranged. The tests confirmed what the family felt in their hearts – Zephany had been found. Speaking of the day Zephany vanished, Celeste Nurse said she woke up and “there was a nurse saying my child is gone. You can’t imagine the feeling.”
South African police say a 50-year-old woman was arrested and will appear this week at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. She has been charged with kidnapping and fraudulently misrepresenting herself as the biological mother.
Zephany’s aunt, Shantal Berry, told The Guardian that the family is ecstatic. “It feels like we’re in a dream and we must still wake up. Can this really be happening?”
Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said that Zephany is currently under the charge of the Western Cape social services department while the investigation is ongoing. “A 50-year-old female has been arrested this morning following an intensive investigation by the Western Cape Hawks into a crime which was perpetrated on [April 30, 1997] where a baby girl was kidnapped from Groote Schuur Hospital,” Traut said in a prepared statement.
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