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Sentencing of S.African baby kidnapper postponed

A woman convicted in a high-profile trial of kidnapping a newborn baby 19 years ago will remain in custody until sentencing on August 1, a South African judge ruled Monday.

The 50-year-old kidnapper stole the baby as her mother slept in a Cape Town hospital and raised the girl as her own child before an astonishing coincidence last year reunited her with her biological family.

The woman, who cannot be named because that would identify the girl, was due to be sentenced Monday but her lawyers requested more time to prepare their arguments in mitigation.

Convicting the kidnapper in March, judge John Hlophe said she could face 10 years in jail.

The girl’s real identity came to light in February last year, when her younger biological sister began attending high school and pupils pointed out her remarkable likeness to a final-year student.

The younger girl told her parents, who met the older girl and immediately believed she was their long-lost baby.

They called the police, and DNA tests confirmed that the girl was indeed their child, whom they had named Zephany Joy Nurse.

Without knowing it, the Nurse family had been living within a couple of kilometres (miles) of their kidnapped daughter, while celebrating her birthday every year and never giving up hope of finding her.

Zephany, who was raised under a different name and has shunned the media spotlight on the case, is expected to be called as a witness by the prosecution at the sentencing hearing.

Judge Hlophe ruled that the public and the media would be barred from the court during her testimony.