On April 28, 1997, young South African couple, Celeste and Morné Nurse, welcomed their first child to the world, a baby girl named Zephany. Having undergone a C-section, Celeste was asked to stay overnight at the hospital for a few days.
On April 30th, the exhausted new Mom closed her eyes and finally drifted off to sleep. A half-hour later, she was awoken by a frantic nurse who asked, “Celeste, where is your baby?”
Half asleep, Celeste looked over at a cot next to her bed where she had last seen Zephany and her heart sank into a pit of despair: it was empty.
The police were called and they searched the entire hospital from top to bottom, but there was simply no sign of Zephany, and they told the Nurses that their baby had likely been kidnapped.
Enraged, Morné knocked over a medicine cabinet and screamed at hospital staff, “How did this happen? How did they even get inside!?”
As it turned out, there was a tunnel-like corridor leading from the outside directly into the maternity ward. While the corridor made it easier for women in labor to reach the ward, it also made it easier for ill-intentioned individuals to gain access.
Celeste recalled speaking to a woman in a nurse’s uniform right before she fell asleep. The nurse cradled a crying Zephany, put her in the cot, and told Celeste to get some rest. When she woke up, Zephany was gone.
Celeste provided a description of the nurse, however, hospital staff did not recognize the unknown woman and insisted that she did not work there.
A woman named Shireen Piet had given birth the same day as Celeste and she reported a strange encounter with a woman matching the description of the fake nurse. Shireen claimed she returned to her room to find the woman cradling her baby. When Shireen asked her what she was doing, the woman said she was simply consoling her baby.
Five days after Celeste gave birth, the couple returned to their home empty-handed. Overcome with grief, they appeared on the news several times, pleading with the abductor to return their child, but months turned into years with no sign of Zephany.
Celeste and Morné would go on to have three more children, a girl, and two boys, before divorcing as they were unable to move past the abduction. However, they remained on good terms and got together to celebrate Zephany’s birthday every year on April 28th.
12 years later in July 2009, Celeste received a disturbing call. The woman on the other end of the line whispered, “I know about your daughter” and asked for $70,000 in exchange for information regarding Zephany’s whereabouts.
Celeste and Morné dropped off a bag containing the money but no one arrived to pick it up. The police traced the call to Glenda Doubell, a neighbor of Celeste’s mother who heard about Zephany’s abduction on the news, and she was ultimately sentenced to three years of house arrest for extortion.
Despite everything they had endured, Celeste and Morné never lost hope that one day, they would find their firstborn. That day came nearly 18 years after Zephany’s birth — in the most bizarre and unexpected way.
In January 2015, Celeste and Morné’s 13-year-old daughter Cassidy began her first day at Zwaanswyk High School. Several schoolmates told Cassidy that she had a doppelganger and introduced her to another student, 17-year-old Miché Solomon. The resemblance was uncanny.
Despite their 4-year age difference, Cassidy and Miché felt an immediate connection to one another. Miché taught Cassidy how to apply makeup and often did her hair in the school bathroom. Before long, the girls were best friends. Other students often asked whether they were long-lost sisters to which Cassidy and Miché would always respond, “Maybe in another life.”
Miché Solomon was an only child (or so she thought) who lived just three miles from Celeste and Morné with her parents, Micheal and Lavona Solomon.
One day, Cassidy showed her father a selfie she had taken with Miché. Morné was stunned and he offered to take the girls out for lunch. When Morné met Miché in person, he couldn’t deny how much she resembled both Cassidy and Celeste.
Celeste and Morné told Cassidy to ask Miché one question and the answer changed their lives forever. Cassidy asked Miché, “Were you born on April 28, 1997?” and Miché responded, “Yes, how did you know that?”
Morné contacted the lead investigator on Zephany’s case and a few days later, a social worker took Miché out of math class and requested a DNA test.
Confident that Lavona and Micheal were her biological parents, Miché agreed to take a DNA test, and to her surprise, it was a match. Miché Solomon was, in fact, Zephany Nurse.
Miché was removed from her home and placed in the custody of the state while Celeste and Morné were granted visitation rights. They later stated that they knew Miché was their daughter from the moment they met her.
The investigation determined that Micheal Solomon had no idea his wife had stolen Miché at birth and he was absolutely distraught upon learning that she was not his biological daughter. Despite this, Micheal chose to stick by Lavona, as did Miché.
Lavona was charged with kidnapping, fraud, and violating the Children’s Act. She vehemently denied stealing Zephany and pleaded not guilty.
Lavona admitted to faking her pregnancy for four months after she suffered a miscarriage. She said she reached out to a woman named Sylvia for fertility treatments but Sylvia offered to sell her a baby instead, claiming the parents did not want her. However, there was no proof that Lavona had undergone fertility treatments or that “Sylvia” ever existed.
The prosecution’s star witness, Shireen Piet, picked Lavona out of a lineup as the woman she caught cradling her baby the day that Zephany was stolen. Shireen testified against Lavona, ultimately sealing her fate. In March 2016, Lavona was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. She will be eligible for parole in July 2023.
Miché said Lavona was an incredibly loving mother who gave her an amazing childhood filled with everything she could ever want. After she turned 18, she chose to live with Micheal rather than her biological parents. Miché often visited Lavona in prison but that changed when she had children of her own. In an effort to gain closure, Miché asked Lavona to tell her the truth but to this day, she maintains her innocence.
In 2019, Miché released a book titled Zephany: Two mothers. One daughter. An astonishing true story in which she described her struggle to build a relationship with her biological parents. After all, Miché grew up believing the Solomons were her parents for nearly 18 years only to discover she was a stolen child who had three siblings she had never met, and a completely different name. The book put a strain on Miché’s relationship with Celeste and Morné and she ultimately cut off all contact with them.
Fortunately, things changed for the better during the Covid-19 lockdown. In November 2020, Celeste and Morné re-married, and Miché, then a single mom of two, took her children and moved in with the Nurses and her younger siblings. Miché and her biological parents were finally able to connect for the first time and they have been a tight-knit family ever since.
“It brought us very close, they would literally speak to me about things I never knew, things they never spoke about, how they were looking for me…they were waiting for me, they were ready to have me, they changed their lives to have me. The more I got to know them, the more it kind of felt like home.” — Miché Solomon
In March 2023, Miché married her long-time fiancé, Justin Sheldon. Fulfilling her wishes, Michael and Morné both walked Miché down the aisle together, creating a beautiful, touching moment they will never forget. The 26-year-old now lives in South Africa with her husband and their two children.