South African woman found guilty of kidnapping baby

Missing child was identified after she befriended her sister in school years later

Morne Nurse (c), the father of a child who was kidnapped in 1997, leaves court in Cape Town, South Africa. Photograph: Schalk van Zuydam/AP Photo

Morne Nurse (c), the father of a child who was kidnapped in 1997, leaves court in Cape Town, South Africa. Photograph: Schalk van Zuydam/AP Photo

 

A judge in South Africa has found a woman guilty of kidnapping a newborn from a hospital nearly two decades ago and raising the girl as her own, a spokesman for the prosecution in the case said.

Judge John Hlophe, in Cape Town, convicted the woman of kidnapping, fraud and contravening child protection laws, said Eric Ntabazalila, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority.

The judge revoked bail and the woman will be detained until her May 30th sentencing, he said.

The judge mentioned in court that she could be looking at a 10-year prison sentence, said Mr Ntabazalila.

State prosecutors said the woman snatched a three-day-old baby from her sleeping mother’s bedside in a hospital in Cape Town in April 1997.

The prosecution also said the woman defrauded authorities when she registered the child as her own daughter in 2003, and changed her birth date.

The defendant, now 51, pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

During the trial she testified that she adopted the child.

“I didn’t know the baby was stolen,” the woman testified, according to the African News Agency.

Reunion

The girl was reunited with her biological parents, Morne and Celeste Nurse, last year after their second daughter befriended a girl at school who looked remarkably like her.

After a police investigation and DNA tests, that new friend turned out to be the missing child.

The biological parents sobbed as the judge read the verdict, ANA reported.

The girl, now 18, was not in court.

The judge ordered that neither the defendant nor the girl may be identified.

PA