In April 1997 a girl wearing a nurse’s uniform walked out of a Cape City hospital carrying a three-day-old child taken from the maternity ward because the child’s mom lay sleeping. It was solely by likelihood, 17 years later, that the stolen youngster found her true identification.
It was the primary day of time period at Zwaanswyk Excessive College in Cape City and the start of Miché Solomon’s ultimate yr.
And that January day in 2015, 17-year-old Miché was mobbed by different college students excitedly telling her concerning the new woman, Cassidy Nurse, who was three years youthful however regarded nearly an identical to her.
Initially, Miché did not assume a lot of it.
However when the 2 women later met within the hall, Miché says she felt an instantaneous connection she could not clarify.
“I nearly felt like I knew her,” she says. “It was so scary – I could not perceive why I used to be feeling like this.”
Regardless of the age distinction, Miché and Cassidy started spending a whole lot of time collectively.
“I’d say, ‘Hey, child woman!’ And she or he would say, ‘Hey, large sis!'” Miché recollects. “Generally I’d go to the toilet together with her and say, ‘Let me brush your hair, let me repair you up with some lip gloss.'”
When anybody requested Miché and Cassidy in the event that they have been sisters they’d joke, “We do not know – possibly in one other life!”
Then sooner or later the 2 women took a selfie collectively and confirmed it to their associates. Some requested Miché if she was positive she hadn’t been adopted. “No! Do not be loopy!” she insisted.
Then Miché and Cassidy went dwelling and confirmed their households the image, too. Lavona, Miché’s mom, who known as her daughter “Princess” and would take her to the mall and to the films, commented on how comparable the 2 women regarded.
Michael, Miché’s father, stated that he recognised his daughter’s new buddy – Cassidy’s father had an electrical retailer the place he generally shopped.
However Cassidy’s mother and father, Celeste and Morne Nurse, gazed intensely on the photograph. They instructed Cassidy they’d a query for Miché, and when the 2 women subsequent met Cassidy got here out with it: “Have been you born on 30 April 1997?”
“I stated, ‘Why? Are you stalking me on Fb?'” Miché says.
Cassidy assured Miché that she wasn’t stalking her, she simply wished to know when Miché had been born. So Miché replied that sure, she had been born on 30 April 1997.
Discover out extra
Miché Solomon spoke to Mpho Lakaje on Outlook on the BBC World Service
Pay attention once more right here or obtain the Outlook podcast
Weeks later, Miché was unexpectedly summoned from her maths lesson to the headmaster’s workplace, the place two social employees have been ready. They instructed Miché a narrative a couple of three-day-old child woman known as Zephany Nurse, who had been kidnapped from Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape City 17 years beforehand and had by no means been discovered.
Miché listened to the story unfold, feeling not sure why they have been telling her this. Then the social employees defined that there was proof to recommend that Miché could possibly be the kid who had been taken, all these years in the past.
To set issues straight, Miché defined that she hadn’t been born on the Groote Schuur Hospital – she had been born on the Retreat Hospital, about 20 minutes’ drive away. That is what was on her beginning certificates, she stated. However the social employees replied that there was no document of her being born there.
Nonetheless feeling that this should all be some horrible mistake, Miché agreed to a DNA take a look at.
“I had a lot perception within the mom who raised me – she would by no means mislead me, particularly about who I’m and the place I come from,” Miché says. “So my thoughts was made up that the DNA take a look at was going to be destructive.”
However issues didn’t go as she hoped. The take a look at outcomes got here again the next day and proved indisputably that Miché Solomon and Zephany Nurse, the infant snatched from the Groote Schuur Hospital in 1997, have been the identical particular person.
“I sat there in shock,” Miché says. “My life was uncontrolled.”
The story of the stolen child, now a younger girl getting ready to maturity, being discovered fairly by likelihood nearly 20 years later made headlines in South Africa and all over the world and Miché’s life modified instantly.
She was instructed that she can be unable to return dwelling – it might be one other three months earlier than she would flip 18 and be allowed to make her personal choices. For now she needed to keep in a protected home.
Then Miché acquired extra devastating information. Lavona Solomon, the lady she had grown up believing was her mom, had been arrested.
“That broke me,” Miché recollects. “I wanted her. I wanted to ask her, ‘Why? What is going on on?’ I used to be so overwhelmed that I belonged to another person.”
Miché was current when Lavona’s husband, Michael – the person Miché considered her father – was questioned by police.
“I may see the stress in his face, I may see the bloodshot in his eyes and I used to be actually scared,” Miché says.
The police wished to know whether or not he was a part of the kidnapping plot.
“My father is gentle and he is mild,” Miché says. “However he is my rock, he is my hero, he is my daddy, he is the person. And here is this different man making him appear to be such a small youngster, whereas my father’s saying, ‘No, I did not do that. Miché is my daughter – how can she not be my daughter? I wasn’t a part of this.'”
The police by no means discovered proof that Michael Solomon had recognized that Miché had been taken from her organic mother and father with out permission and he was launched.
Michael says that Lavona had been pregnant. It is thought that she hid a miscarriage after which faked the rest of her being pregnant, earlier than stealing Zephany Nurse, bringing her dwelling and pretending she had given beginning to the infant herself.
And now Lavona Solomon was in custody, awaiting trial on prices of kidnapping and fraudulently claiming to be the mom of a kid.
Though Celeste and Morne Nurse had gone on to have three extra youngsters, they’d by no means stopped searching for their first born, Zephany, and had celebrated her birthday yearly – even after they’d divorced.
However all of the whereas their stolen youngster had been rising up close by. The Solomon house is simply 5km from the Nurses’ – as a small youngster, Miché would run round on the sector reverse the Nurses’ home, whereas Michael performed soccer.
Now, after a rare flip of occasions, the Nurse household’s prayers had been answered. Miché was reunited together with her organic mother and father at a police station with social employees available.
“They hugged me and squeezed me and began crying,” Miché says. However she wasn’t comfy. One thing did not really feel proper.
“I used to be like, ‘Simply go along with it as a result of it is a disgrace for these folks, they’ve been by lots,'” she says. “It is unhappy, however you understand, I felt nothing, I did not really feel that I would missed them.”
Miché was in emotional turmoil. One set of oldsters have been elated and determined to make up for misplaced time, however strangers to her. The others – those she beloved – have been devastated, and certainly one of them was behind bars.
Lavona Solomon’s trial on the excessive court docket in Cape City started in August 2015. Each Miché and her organic mother and father have been there to listen to Lavona’s testimony.
All through the trial, Lavona Solomon denied any wrongdoing. She instructed the court docket of her quite a few makes an attempt to conceive‚ a variety of miscarriages and her desperation to undertake a baby. Lavona then stated she had been supplied a child by a girl known as Sylvia who had been giving her fertility therapy. Sylvia had instructed Lavona that the infant belonged to a younger woman who was not fascinated with holding it and wished the infant to be adopted. However there was no proof that Sylvia existed.
Moreover, nearly 20 years after the incident, a witness who remembered seeing the lady dressed as a nurse who carried child Zephany away as Celeste lay sleeping, picked Lavona Solomon out in an identification parade. The choose concluded that the proof towards her was overwhelming.
In 2016, Lavona Solomon was sentenced to 10 years in jail for kidnapping, fraud and violating the Youngsters’s Act. The choose criticised her for displaying no regret in the course of the trial.
“I felt like loss of life was occurring to me,” Miché says. “I used to be like, ‘How am I gonna cope? How am I going to get by life with out the mom that I had day-after-day in my life?'”
Later that yr, Miché visited Lavona in jail and was capable of communicate to her for the primary time for the reason that social employees had arrived at her faculty.
“The primary go to was behind a window, it was not a contact go to,” Miché says. “And I noticed my mom within the clothes that feminine prisoners put on and it broke my coronary heart. I cried and cried.”
Miché actually wished to know the reality, to seek out out what had occurred on the day that Lavona had taken her from her mom in hospital.
“I instructed her, ‘By figuring out I am not your blood – that I truly belong to another person, and that you have robbed them of potentialities and adjusted my entire future – hurts me. How am I alleged to imagine your phrase if you’ve lied to me, saying that I’m your youngster? You broke your belief with me. You’ll have to come back clear if you wish to have a relationship with me.’
“And she or he stated, ‘In the future, I’ll let you know.’
“She nonetheless says that she did not do it, however I feel she did.”
Nonetheless, Miché says she would not maintain any grudges.
“Forgiving brings a lot therapeutic into your coronary heart,” Miché says. “Life should go on. She is aware of that I forgive her, and he or she is aware of that I nonetheless love her.”
It has now been greater than 4 years since Miché found the reality about her identification. When she turned 18 on the finish of April 2015, she thought of shifting in with certainly one of her organic mother and father, however determined towards it.
“They have been divorced, that household unit had been tousled,” Miché says. “So I went for the apparent determination and the stablest determination – to maneuver again in with Michael, that was my protected house, that was my dwelling.”
Miché has struggled to type a relationship together with her organic household, and says that at instances she even felt that she hated them for taking her “mom” away.
She nonetheless visits Lavona in jail in Worcester, about 120km from the place she lives, but it surely’s an extended drive, particularly now that she has two youngsters of her personal.
Lavona Solomon is due for launch in six years and Miché says she usually needs time would “hurry up”. She’s nonetheless residing within the household dwelling, and ready for her mom to return.
Maybe surprisingly, Miché Solomon has chosen to maintain the identify that she was raised with fairly than the one with which she was born. However by some means, regardless of the psychological disaster of discovering that the lady who raised her had truly stolen her, she has by some means made peace with each of her identities.
“I feel I hated Zephany to start with,” Miché says.
“She got here with such pressure, such an uninvited invitation, a lot struggling and a lot ache. However Zephany is the reality and Miché, the 17-year-old woman that I used to be, she was a lie. So I’ve managed to steadiness each names. You may name me Zephany or Miché, it is fantastic.”
Miché’s story is instructed within the guide Zephany: Two moms. One daughter by Joanne Jowell
You may additionally like:
When a one-day-old child, Paul Joseph Fronczak, was stolen from a Chicago hospital in 1964, the horrible story made headlines throughout America. Then, two years later, an deserted boy was recognized because the lacking child and handed over to the relieved mother and father. Years later, Paul started to analyze what had occurred – and was shocked by what he discovered.
Learn: The FBI stated I used to be my mother and father’ stolen child – however I discovered the reality’