Remarkable case

Mother comes face-to-face with woman who allegedly kidnapped her daughter 19 years ago

Trial proceedings have commenced in a bizarre kidnapping case that saw an infant girl taken from a hospital and raised by another woman — barely a mile from where the child’s family lived. In 1997, Celeste Nurse gave birth to a baby girl named Zephany in a Cape Town, South Africa hospital. Zephany had been delivered via C-section, and three days after the birth, Celeste was groggy from the pain medication that she had been given post-surgery. When a woman dressed in a nurse’s outfit asked to hold Zephany, Celeste assented and fell asleep. When she woke up, the baby was gone. “I thought that someone needed to wake me up because this was not happening to me,” Celeste on the witness stand on Tuesday. “I thought that it cannot be true.”

Celeste and her husband Morne made repeated appeals for Zephany’s return, to no avail. Then, eighteen years after the baby went missing, a remarkable turn of events led to Zephany’s discovery. Celeste’s teenage daughter Cassidy, who was born after Zephany’s abduction, told her parents that she bore an uncanny resemblance to another girl in her high school. Morne arranged to meet the girl at a local McDonald’s and, convinced that she was his abducted daughter, approached the police. DNA testing proved that the teemager was Zephany. In February of 2015, Celeste reunited with her daughter. “I burst out into tears when I saw her,” Celeste told CBS. “I couldn’t stop crying. I said, ‘Finally, I found you. For seventeen years I’ve been looking for you.’”

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A 51-year-old seamstress has been charged with kidnapping and fraud in connection with Zephany’s abduction. She has pleaded not guilty, claiming in a 35-page document that she “adopted” Zephany through a middle-woman, who told her that the baby was not wanted by her biological parents. It is not clear if such a middle-woman ever existed. Remarkably, Celeste has said that she is willing to forgive the accused, regardless of how the trial plays out. “When I see her I want to say, ‘Thank you for what you’ve done,’” she explained in an interview last March. “‘You’ve done a good job. Look at my daughter, she’s beautiful inside out.’”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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