Zephany Nurse: South Africa’s Decade Old Baby Napping Case Solved?


Imagine waking up one day to discover that your mother might be a criminal. Now she’s not guilty of say, robbing a bank or skipping out on tax payments, no, she’s supposedly guilty of robbing you! It’s a difficult thought to process, but it is one that Zephany Nurse is undoubtedly working through right now and say whatever you may, we do not wish to be her.

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Her mother Celeste lay in a hospital bed in Cape Town, groggy from the morphine that she’d been given to numb the pain that resulted from her cesarean section three days before. She had spotted a woman dressed much like a nurse sitting near the maternity ward door, the woman had asked if she could pick up her crying baby to soothe her and she had hazily acquiesced before falling back and sleeping off.

She was woken up by frantic shaking and another nurse asking her where her baby was, mind soon sharpened by the horror of what may have happened, Celeste tore the IV from her arm and immediately began a search through the hospital halls despite her fresh surgical wounds, the baby however, was long gone.

She stayed gone for practically 18 years as Celeste and her husband, Morne Nurse kept holding on to the hope that their daughter would again be found, almost getting duped by another woman in the process. The couple went on to have three more children and it was one of them Cassidy Nurse who bore an uncanny resemblance to Zephany that finally led to the fulfillment of her parents hopes. The two had been enrolled in the same school and people kept on commenting on their resemblance, leading to Cassidy being drawn to the older girl and they became friends.


Cassidy Nurse then told her parents (now divorced) about the mentioned similarity and her father arranged to meet the girl, the rest as they say is history. A drawn out six weeks of DNA testing which came back in February of 2015 proved that the girl was indeed Zephany Nurse and a day after, Celeste was reunited with her daughter.

Her ‘supposed’ mother, a 51-year-old seamstress was arrested. She has been charged with kidnapping and fraud (for filing false paperwork regarding her daughter’s birth and identity), her name is however not to be revealed under South Africa’s law.

The woman however tells a different story in a 35-page document explaining her plea of not-guilty. She paints herself as another unwitting victim in the entire story, she writes that she was handed the baby by a middle woman. Due to the abuse which she had suffered when she was younger, she had apparently suffered a number of miscarriages. After one which she suffered in 1997, she hid the news from her husband and secretly arranged to adopt a newborn. She’d met the middle-woman at a bus station in Cape Town and was handed an infant wrapped in a blanket, she then told her husband, family and friends that the dark-haired girl was her own.

A2M8K0 Silhouette of mother holding baby daughter

Celeste Nurse with a rather unexpected stand states that she is prepared to forgive the woman even if the court system can’t. Speaking last year March when the woman was released on bail, she said; “When I see the woman that took her, I would like to give her a hug…When I see her I want to say thank you for what you’ve done. You’ve done a good job, look at my daughter, she’s beautiful inside out.”

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