South African woman denies snatching Cape Town baby

This file photo taken on February 27, 2015 shows Celeste Nurse leaving the Cape Town magistrates court with family members, after attending a hearing during which a 50-year old woman appeared for allegedly kidnapping her daughter Image copyright AFP
Image caption Celeste Nurse, in red, says she is the biological mother of the teenage girl

A South African woman accused of kidnapping a two-day-old baby in 1997 has pleaded not guilty in court.

Police accuse her of fraudulently pretending to be the girl's biological mother since snatching her from a world famous hospital in Cape Town city.

The 50-year-old woman was arrested last year after enrolling the child, named as Zephany Nurse, in a school.

Celeste and Morne Nurse, the parents of a similar-looking girl at the school, became suspicious, and alerted police.

DNA tests proved that Zephany was their child, police said.

She had been living with the accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, near the home of Celeste and Morne Nurse in the Cape Flats, a mainly working class neighbourhood in Cape Town, when she was found last year.

Zephany was placed in the care of social workers. A nationwide search in 1997 failed to find her.

'Baby was crying'

Mrs Nurse broke down when she testified at the start of the trial, reports the BBC's Nomsa Maseko from court.

She said Zephany was her first daughter, and she was 18 when she gave birth to her via a caesarean section at Groote Schuur Hospital, where the world's first heart transplant was done in 1967.

She denied giving the accused permission to take her daughter from a ward.

"My baby was crying and I saw a person dressed in maroon clothes standing by the door. She asked if she could pick up the child," Mrs Nurse said.

"I was in pain and under medication. I fell asleep. Next thing I remember is the nurse asking where my child was.

"We ran around looking for the child in every floor of the hospital. The baby was gone. Nowhere to be found. I thought it was a joke," Mrs Nurse said.

The trial continues, and the accused is expected to testify in her own defence.

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