On a day in 2015, the school day started out as just any other. Miche Solomon had just commenced a new academic year; new students also wandered the corridors of the school navigating their new environments.
As Miche stood, she could notice a troop of people storming towards her. They were there to tell her about the new girl, Cassidy Nurse, who looked just like her but was three years younger.
“There were people saying that there’s this girl. But I never paid attention because everyone of us has a double somewhere that looks like us in this world.”
Miche later met Cassidy in one of the school corridors. She saw this as an opportunity to find out what all the fuss was about earlier.
“She said hello and I said hello. She said, ‘gosh, you look just like me.”
“When I saw her for the first time, in front of me, I also thought she looked like me. I felt an instant unexplainable connection and there was that sense of protection I felt over her, when I started getting to know her.”
“I felt almost like I knew her. It was so scary as well.”
Since their first meeting, the two girls, despite the age gap, started hanging out together.
They’d do each other’s makeup, joke around and have plenty of conversations together.
One day they took a selfie.
Their friends who saw the picture, questioned further, though in a teasing manner, whether Miche was adopted. Miche says she laughed at that comment and just brushed it off.
Cassidy and Miche out of excitement for their resemblance later showed the image to their parents.
While Miche’s parents simply commented on the girls’ similar facial features, Cassidy’s parents became immediately engrossed. They tasked their daughter to ask Miche one simple question that could change everything for them.
The next day at school, Cassidy approached Miche and asked about her birthday.
“She asked me, ‘Are you born on 30 April, 1997?’ and I said why are you stalking me on Facebook? And she was like no, she just wanted to know. I answered, yes I was born on that day. I didn’t think anything of it.”
This revelation led to a series of events that would flip Miche’s life upside down dramatically.
A few weeks later, Miche was called to the headmaster’s office. There, social workers waited to speak with Miche. They were there to narrate to her the story of how a three-day-old baby was abducted from a hospital in 1997 and how a trail of evidence convinced them that she is that missing baby.
“I sat there in shock, inside. I showed a brave face and then I asked what’s going to happen next. I was just waiting on what’s going to happen next because I needed to know what was going to happen next. At that moment, I was thinking of how my life was out of control, it’s out of proportion.
It was all wrong to me.”
With so much uneasiness and uncertainty, Miche agreed to a DNA test. It was proven that she was the first child of the Nurses’ who lost their baby two decades ago. The test also confirmed that Miche was indeed the big sister of Cassidy.
Miche’s life story had gone from belonging to loving family to having no family despite the existence of her biological family. Her life story had now switched to being a global sensational story that kept making headlines.
At 17 years old, Miche, who is also known as Zephany, had her life become a story that gripped the world, a story that kept making the headlines.
The woman who kidnapped her and raised Miche as her own had also been arrested just after the revelation.
“That broke me,” Miché recalls. “I needed her. I needed to ask her, ‘Why? What’s going on?’ I was so overwhelmed that I belonged to someone else.”
Her believed-to-be father, Michael Solomon was questioned about the 17-year-old case. Police officers wanted to find out if he was a participant in the 1997 kidnapping.
He was cleared of any wrongdoing. According to the police, Michael Solomon did not know about the kidnapping. He was kept in the dark as much as Miche was. It was revealed that Lavona was pregnant but had a miscarriage. She had a history of miscarriages. Desperate to have a child of her own, she kidnapped Zephany Nurse and called her Miche Solomon.
According to Miche, Lavona denies that she kidnapped Miche Solomon till this day. She pled, not guilty to the charges laid against her during her trial in court. Instead she said that since she was in need of a baby, her fertility nurse, with a name she gave as ‘Sylvia’ got her a baby from a woman who did not want the child anymore.
Investigators found out that a person with the name Sylvia never existed. Furthermore, a witness remembered seeing a woman dressed as a nurse carrying Zephany away as Miche’s biological mother slept in her hospital room and identified Lavona Solomon as the woman in an identity parade.
The judge concluded that the evidence against Lavona was overwhelming and her case was rejected by the Cape High Court and she was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2016.
“It was difficult for me to see my mother (Lavona) in that position and that she had cuffs on her. I can’t believe that this is the mother that I love, is sitting in court. We tend to classify that court is for criminals and evil people. So it was very difficult for me to see her as that as well.
She’s the only mother I knew.”
While Miche began to get used to her new life without her mother, the Nurses’ had also just come to terms with the fact that they had found their lost baby.
They always believed Miche was around them and that they just didn’t know where to look.
As it turns out, Miche and the Solomons’ lived about five kilometres from the Nurses’.
Michael frequently played football around the Nurses’ home and regularly took Miche along with him. She played ran around the field opposite the Nurses’ home.
On her own, Miche struggled to start a relationship with her new parents. She also visited Lavona from time to time in prison. Miche who goes by both her birth names, one day wanted to find out why Lavona did what she did.
“I told her, ‘By knowing I’m not your blood – that I actually belong to someone else, and that you’ve robbed them of possibilities and changed my whole destiny – hurts me. How am I supposed to believe your word when you’ve lied to me, saying that I am your child? You broke your trust with me. You are going to have to come clean if you want to have a relationship with me.’
“And she said, ‘One day, I will tell you.’
“She still says that she didn’t do it, but I think she did.”
However, Miché says she doesn’t hold any grudges against Lavona.
Now a parent of two of her own, she lives with Michael Solomon and her two children as she says that has always been her home. She still visits Lavona 120km away from her home which she says can be challenging because of her children.
Lavona Solomon has spent four years in prison so far of her 10-year sentence.