A teenager stolen from her biological mother’s hospital bed when she was a newborn says her only mother is the kidnapper who raised her.

A South African court jailed the child snatcher for 10 years after an astonishing series of events ended 18 years of mystery, reports 9 NEWS.

The baby was named by her biological parents as Zephany Nurse – her real name has been withheld to protect her identity – in a maternity ward in Groote Schuur Hospital on April 27, 1997.

While her mother, Celeste Nurse, was recovering in a hospital bed the baby was stolen.

Zephany was raised by the jailed woman, who has also not been named, and her partner.

It was not until Zephany was enrolled in secondary school as a teenager when suspicions were raised.

By sheer coincidence she attended the same school as her biological sister, who immediately noted the striking similarities in their appearances.

Celeste Nurse and her husband Morne contacted police and a DNA test proved their suspicions, she was their long-lost daughter.

The woman who raised Zephany denied she stole her, telling the court another woman had given her the baby at a busy railway station as well as adoption papers which were later apparently lost.

The court found her guilty but that has not stopped Zephany coming forward saying she only has one true mother, the one in jail.

Zephany now lives with the man who raised her and he has told South African media Zephany is deeply upset about “losing her mother”.

In a statement issued through the Centre for Child Law in March, Zephany complained about the treatment her “mother” had received in the media.

“Don’t you think for once that that is my mother? Whether it is true or not is not for you to toy with. Take all the professionalism away and think how it would be if this was you and your family, and your reputation gets swept through the disgusting gutters of filth.

“How would you look at yourself in the mirror? How would you feel as a father, desperately broken but still finds the goodness to support his family. While you are out there publishing stories which you yourself don’t know if it’s true or not?

“How would your daughter or son feel when their skin feels ripped of their face? Because of you. Appreciate the privacy you have with your family and think what I am going through, and my father and mother. I plead again: don’t hurt me no more with these lies please. I am 18 years old. I am also trying to structure my life. Thank you.”

The Nurse family want a relationship with Zephany but she seems distant to the idea of a reunion.

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  • How confusing for Zephany.
    She’s clearly attached and has bonded with the woman who raised her. Her behavior towards the woman who kidnapped and raised her sounds nearly a bit like “Stockholm syndrome”, she doesn’t know different then this is her mum.
    Wikipedia: “Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon described in 1973 in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly eight percent of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome”.


  • Such a heartbreaking story and the child (teenager) has clearly been very negatively affected by the entire situation. Unfortunately the only person to blame is the one she calls her ‘mother’. I hope one day she can meet and get to know her real family.


  • That poor girl! Knowing the only person she looked up to was the one that demolished another women’s chance of being a mum.


  • Yesterday I was talking with my family about this case, and they actually think completely different than me about this case. In their idea the mother shouldn’t have done what is “right” (call the police and start the case against the mother) but she should have approached the girl, told her what the mother did and then give her a chance to reconnect with the biological family. In their idea is quite “normal” that the girl “chooses” the mother that has kidnapped her, because she spent all her life with them.
    I’m not so sure about this all thing.


  • How confusing for this young lady. I feel so much for the biological family.


  • How devastating for the biological family. I hope the daughter changes her mind once things settle down


  • That is sooo sad. I feel so bad for the biological parents as she does not want them in her life!! They lost her now a 2nd time. Just so so sad


  • So sad. Very confusing for the young girl, having the only mother she’s known locked away. How sad for the birth mother. Losing her baby through no fault of her own and now the child not wanting to know her. Sure would break my heart


  • Absolutely tragic. Hopefully she will feel differently after the first shock.


  • The teenager needs time to come to terms with the whole issue. Her world has been turned upside down. The media sources aren’t helping by issuing articles about it. She has suddenly found out that the “parents” she loved and who loved her abducted her. She lso needs time to come to terms with the fact that she has a biological sister, that she is not an only child.


  • Such a tragic story. I would be quite mad to my parents if I found out that they had kidnapped me as a baby. I guess that not everybody reacts the same way.
    How sad indeed for the biological parents. They’ve finally found her, but she doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. :-(


  • She sees the kidnapper as her mother because that is all she knew,but can she forgive this woman for doing what she did?


  • of course she sees the kidnapper as the mother, that is who raised her, it just doesn’t make it right, That poor biological family still suffering


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