Zephany Nurse was kidnapped in 1997 from her mother's hospital room.
A South African woman has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for kidnapping a baby 19 years ago and raising the child as her own, according to reports.
The 52-year-old Cape Town native, who remains anonymous and continues to deny that she kidnapped the little girl from her mother’s hospital bed back in 1997 was sentenced on Monday, the Associated Press reports.
The girl, known publicly as Zephany Nurse, was reunited with her biological parents, Morné and Celeste Nurse, in February last year after their second daughter Cassidy befriended Zephany at school. Due to their uncanny likeness for each other, a police investigation and DNA tests later proved that they were in fact sisters and the family’s missing child.
Throughout the trial the convicted woman reportedly maintained that she did not steal the child, but that she purchased the baby from another woman who said the biological parents did not want her.
According to NPR, the child was renamed by the convicted kidnapper, who raised Zephany as her own daughter, however that name has not been publicized in an effort to protect the child’s privacy.
Over the years that their daughter was missing, Zephany’s biological parents reportedly celebrated her birthday every year, despite police never having any leads.
But when Zephany’s younger sister, invited her over for coffee after they became friends at school, Morné saw Zephany and called the police.
DNA tests confirmed that Zephany and Cassidy were sisters and the woman who abducted Zephany was taken into custody and charged with kidnapping.
According to AP, while the Nurses were present for sentencing, Zephany was absent and continues to live with her kidnapper’s husband, who she has grown up to believe is her biological father.