Cape Town: A newborn who was stolen from her mother`s arms 17 years ago from a South African hospital and grew up not knowing her biological parents, has been traced at last, a media report said Friday.
However, it was a sheer coincidence that led to the discovery of Zephany Nurse, stolen as a three-day-old baby from the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in April 1997, Independent Online reported.
A DNA test confirmed that Zephany, now in the matric class of a Cape Town school, was the daughter of Celeste and Morne Nurse.
The couple, who went on to have three more children, have celebrated Zephany`s birthday every year since losing her, never giving up hope that their first-born child would come back to them someday.
Zephany grew up with a different name, and a different family, never knowing she was not their real daughter.
However, last month, her biological sister, Cassidy Nurse, started grade eight at the same school that Zephany attended, and fellow pupils noticed a startling resemblance she bore to a matric pupil.
When Cassidy told her parents about the matric girl, hope began to strengthen in their hearts after 17 long years.
The Nurses invited the matric girl for a cup of coffee, under the pretence that they wanted to meet Cassidy`s friend. When they too saw the striking similarities between the two girls, Morne Nurse contacted the police.
Soon the Hawks, South Africa`s elite security agency for priority crime investigation, were involved, questioning the girl`s parents and taking DNA samples.
Police spokesman Andre Traut confirmed Thursday that a 50-year-old woman has been arrested. She is to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate`s Court Friday.
The accused woman and her husband, also in his fifties, have no other children.
Without knowing it, Celeste and Morne Nurse had been living within a couple of kilometres of their long lost daughter.
In a 2010 interview with the Weekend Argus, Morne Nurse said he was still holding out for his lost daughter.
"I`ll never, ever give up hope. I can feel it in my gut -- my daughter is out there and she is going to come home."
However, Thursday night, he was not willing to speak to the media as the family met to decide the way forward now that Zephany was found and her future thrown into turmoil.
"We have no closure here," he said.