Cape Town – The trial of a woman alleged to have stolen a baby from the Groote Schuur Hospital 19 years ago was expected to continue for a third day on Thursday.
So far, five witnesses have testified against the woman who was accused of snatching the baby girl who was to be named Zephany Nurse.
On Wednesday, a woman testified that the accused, who may not be named to protect the identity of the teenager, tried to steal her baby on the day that Nurse was taken.
Shireen Piet said a woman, who appeared heavily pregnant, had come to sit with her in her ward several times after she gave birth at Groote Schuur Hospital on April 28 1997.
On the day of Nurse's kidnapping three days later, Piet said she asked the woman to lend her some money to make a call from the nearby public phone booth.
The woman went to her room downstairs and returned with a handful of money. Piet took only enough for the call and went to the booth, leaving the woman in her room, but keeping an eye on the ward.
Man crying loudly
She hung up when she saw the woman with her baby, outside the ward, near the lift and stairs. The woman told her that her baby girl had been crying but when she looked at the child, she did not appear to have cried.
Piet said she put her baby back in her cot and sat on the bed. The woman stayed with her.
They later heard a racket from the next ward and went to investigate. An incubator was being wheeled in. “I watched and everyone could see me, but she looked scared someone would see her,” Piet testified.
“I left her there, standing against a wall in the ward.”
Piet said she never saw the woman again after that.
“A while later, I heard a man crying very loudly. I walked in the direction and found a man sitting around the corner at the lifts in a foetal position. I asked what was wrong. He said his child was gone.”
Piet said she told the man, Nurse’s biological father, Morne, about the woman who had tried to steal her child.
Something about her face
After giving police a description of the woman who had been visiting her, Piet said she did not think the woman would hurt the baby.
Asked why, Piet replied that the woman had asked her what formula the hospital put babies on.
Piet told the court that when Morne contacted her last year and asked her to look at a photo of two people, she recognised the woman as the person who had tried to take her baby.
“She was the woman who sat with me in hospital. She just got older and fatter.”
Having identified the woman during an ID parade last year, she said she remembered her chin, which reminded her of her sister-in-law.
“There was also something about her face that made me recognise her.”
The woman was arrested in February 2015, after the matter came to light when the girl's biological sister, who is four years younger, told her parents that a matric girl at her school bore a striking resemblance to her and her parents.
When the parents discovered the girl had the same birthday as their missing child, they reported it to police. DNA tests confirmed the teen was indeed their daughter.
The 51-year-old suspect has pleaded not guilty to the crime and claims she was handed baby Zephany by a stranger while at a train station.