JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African man who was reunited with his kidnapped daughter after 17 years said on Tuesday that he would like to talk to Madeleine McCann's parents.
Morne Nurse said he had never given up hope that his daughter was alive, and researched the case of the British girl who disappeared in Portugal in 2007, days before her fourth birthday.
"I'm trying to get a hold of the mother," said Nurse, during a press conference shown on state broadcaster SABC. "What we wanted to tell them is that, never give up."
The girl's biological mother, Celeste Nurse, said "All they have to do is just believe and pray and have hope."
The Nurses found their daughter last month, after their second daughter befriended a girl at school who looked remarkably like her. That friend turned out to be her big sister who was kidnapped in 1997. The girl, not named because she is a minor, was taken from her mother's bedside in a Cape Town hospital at just three days old.
Celeste and Morne Nurse kept their daughter's memory alive, celebrating her birthday every year. Their three younger children blew out the candles on the birthday cake of a sister they had never met.
Police officer Mike Barkhuizen also refused to let the case go. He told the Beeld newspaper that he had been looking for the girl for the past five years, and knew the moment's he saw the teenager, that she was the baby kidnapped all those years ago. In 2013, British police reopened an investigation into the girl's disappearance, believing that she was still alive, after they discovered new leads.
In the years following the South African kidnapping, Morne and Celeste Nurse were tormented by stories of children found murdered or trafficked to foreign countries.
"That killed us," said Morne, but they said they always felt their first child was alive. Their marriage, however, took strain and the Nurses are now separated.