August 15, 2016 / 10:27 AM / 2 years ago

South African baby-snatcher sentenced to 10 years in jail

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - A South African woman found guilty of kidnapping a newly-born baby was given a 10 year prison sentence on Monday, almost two decades after she snatched the child from her biological mother’s hospital bedside, a court official said.

Celeste Nurse, the biological mother of Zephany Nurse, gestures to the photographer after the woman who kidnapped her baby Zephany in 1997 was sentenced to ten years imprisonment at the Cape Town High Court, South Africa, August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

The 51-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity she gave to baby “Zephany Nurse”, was arrested in 2015 after suspicions were raised when pupils at her school remarked on her close resemblance to another girl.

DNA tests carried out by police then proved that the two girls were sisters, ending 19 years of uncertainty for biological parents, Celeste and Morne Nurse.

Prosecutors wanted the Cape High Court to impose a 15-year sentence on the accused. She was found guilty of kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act.

“I can confirm that the accused in this case has been sentenced to 10 years direct imprisonment. We are happy with that sentence,” said Eric Ntabazalila, a regional spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Joe Brock

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