Stolen Baby South Africa: Girl Snatched From Mom In 1997 Reunited With Family

After holding vigils for 17 years, a mom in South Africa got their stolen baby back. Police in Cape Town say Zephany Nurse, who was snatched from a hospital out of the arms of her sleeping mother, was reunited with her family. The suspect alleged to have kidnapped the baby in 1997 has been arrested, according to SMH report.

Nurse was just 3-days-old (shown here with her biological mom, Celeste) when she vanished from a hospital in Woodstock. Then, an unknown biracial woman at the time struck up a conversation with the mom about her first-born. Later, the woman, tired after the labor and delivery of her newborn, fell asleep. When the attending nurse returned, Celeste was still sleeping, but her baby was gone — apparently stolen. A missing persons report was filed, and an alert was sounded in South Africa about the abduction, but authorities have been at a loss about baby Zephany’s whereabouts — until now.

Luckily, the missing girl’s parents and police received a break in the kidnapping case. New information about the girl’s abductor surfaced by chance. When Cassidy, a newcomer to Zephany’s school (and biological sister to the stolen baby), was enrolled, students’ suspicions rose about her roots; many “noticed a striking similarity” to Zephany.

Cassidy’s parents hatched a scheme that involved extending Zephany an invitation for coffee. She accepted. Once there, Cassidy’s family noticed the similarities and called local police in South Africa. After an investigation, which included a DNA paternity test, authorities cracked the case of the missing baby from over a decade ago.

Police then charged a 50-year-old South African woman with stealing the baby from the hospital. Until that time, Zephany never knew she was stolen and belonged to another family. Ironically, her biological family lived just a short distance away from where the teenager lived with her presumed family.

Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut, a police spokesperson in South Africa, said the woman and her spouse never had any kids of their own.

“The suspect is being charged with kidnapping, fraud and contravening sections of the Children’s Act, in that she fraudulently pretended that she was the biological mother of a child.”

Zephany was placed in temporary custody with the Department of Social Services of the Western Cape Government after tests confirmed her real identity. Since her birth, the girl went by another name given to her by the woman who snatched her.

Now, the girl has been reunited with her real family who never gave up hope of her safe return. Since the baby was stolen from the South Africa hospital, the family started and continued the tradition of celebrating her birthday yearly as if she were the guest of honor.

[Photo credit by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images]