Woman who kidnapped and raised baby as her own jailed in South Africa

Woman who kidnapped and raised baby as her own jailed in South Africa
Morne, left, and Celeste Nurse, the biological parents of the South African born kidnapped child Zephany Nurse, embrace each other after court proceedings in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam.

A South African woman who kidnapped a newborn baby nearly two decades ago from a hospital and raised the girl as her own has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Zephany Nurse was reunited last year with her biological parents, Morne and Celeste Nurse, after the couple's second daughter befriended a girl at school who looked remarkably like her.

A police investigation and DNA tests showed that the two girls were sisters and that the new friend was the Nurses' missing child.

Zephany Nurse's biological parents were in court in Cape Town for the sentencing, but their daughter was not.

Judge John Hlophe said the crimes that the kidnapper committed were serious but that he had taken into account her previously clean record and other mitigating circumstances in deciding the sentence, according to South African news outlet News24.

Publicly, the girl is known by the name given to her by her biological parents and used in the media in the years since her disappearance.

After she was found, the girl chose to continue using the name given to her by the kidnapper.

To protect her privacy, a judge ordered that her adopted name and the name of her kidnapper not be used by the media.

The kidnapper snatched the three-day-old baby from her sleeping mother's hospital bedside in Cape Town in April 1997, state prosecutors said.

The prosecution also said the woman defrauded authorities when she registered the child as her own daughter in 2003 under a false birth date.

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