A SELFIE taken by a teenage girl helped to reveal she had been stolen as a baby and her friend in the photo was actually her sister.
Miché Soloman was 17 in January 2015 when she was beginning the first day of her final school year at the Zwaanswyk High School in Cape Town when excited friends told her about a new girl, Cassidy Nurse, who looked almost identical to her even if she was three years younger.
When the two met in the corridor Miché says she felt an instant connection but couldn’t explain why and the two quickly became friends.
Miché said: “I almost felt like I knew her. It was so scary – I couldn’t understand why I was feeling like this.”
She added: “I would say, ‘Hey, baby girl!’ And she would say, ‘Hey, big sis!’
“Sometimes I would go to the bathroom with her and say, ‘Let me brush your hair, let me fix you up with some lip gloss.’”
If anyone asked if they were sisters they would joke, “We don’t know – maybe in another life!”
One day the two friends took a selfie together and friends would ask if Miche was sure she hadn’t been adopted.
Even Miché’s mother Lavona commented the two girls looked alike when she saw the photo.
SNATCHED FROM HOSPITAL
But when Cassidy’s parents, Celeste and Morne Nurse, saw the photo they said they had a question for Miché – was she born on April 30, 1997?
It turned out she had.
A few weeks later Miché was called to the headmaster’s office where two social workers told her about a three-day-old baby called Zephany Nurse who had been taken from Groote Schurr Hospital in Cape Town 17 years ago but had never been found.
They told her they suspected she was the toddler that had been taken.
Initially, Miché was sceptical of the story, saying she hadn’t been born at that hospital but at the Retreat Hospital, according to her birth certificate.
But the social workers said there was not record of her having been born there.
To settle the matter Miché agreed to a DNA test which proved conclusively that Miche was actually the baby Zephany Nurse who had been snatched.
Miche was stunned by the revelation.
She said: “I sat there in shock. My life was out of control.”
She wasn’t allowed to return home and moved to a safe house until she turned 18, some three months later, when she would be legally responsible for her own decisions.
Then cops arrested Lavona Soloman, the woman she had grown up to believe was her mother.
Miché said: “That broke me. I needed her. I needed to ask her, ‘Why? What’s going on?’ I was so overwhelmed that I belonged to someone else.”
The police also questioned Lavona’s husband Michael to determine if he had been involved in the plot.
While the cops never found any evidence to suggest Michael had been involved in any plot, Lavona was charged.
It is thought Lavona concealed a miscarriage and then faked the rest of her pregnancy before stealing the baby, bringing the baby home and pretending she had given birth to the baby alone.
The two kids had grown up near to one another with Miché often playing in the field opposite the Nurses’ house.
JAILED FOR TEN YEARS
Then Miché faced meeting her biological parents but had very mixed emotions when they met.
She said: They hugged me and squeezed me and started crying.
“I was like, ‘Just go with it because it’s a shame for these people, they have been through a lot.’
“It’s sad, but you know, I felt nothing, I didn’t feel that I’d missed them.”
The disturbing case hit the headlines when the trial began in August 2015 with Lavona denying any wrongdoing and saying she had been offered the baby by a woman called Sylvia who had been giving her fertility treatment.
Despite her claims she was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in jail for kidnapping, fraud and violating the Children’s Act.
Desperate for answers about what happened to her Miché went to visit her mother in jail but her mother simply said, “One day, I will tell you.”
Unsure about the future she moved in with her dad Michael, considering that was her “safe space”.
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Miché has struggled to form a relationship with her biological family and even said at time she felt she hated them for taking her mother away from them.
She has also kept the name Miché rather than the one she was born with but now, after all these years, has made peace with her other self.
Miché said: “Zephany is the truth and Miché, the 17-year-old girl that I was, she was a lie. So I’ve managed to balance both names. You can call me Zephany or Miché, it’s fine.”