Late Shembe leader ‘confided in preacher’

2011-11-23 12:51

The late leader of the Nazareth Baptist Church had revealed the name of the person he nominated as his successor to a preacher in the church, the Durban High Court heard today.

“Vimbeni Shembe asked me to look after Vela Shembe as he would be the person who would lead the church when he passed away,” preacher Mandlakayise Cebekhulu said.

The Shembe Church has been embroiled in a leadership battle since Vimbeni’s death in April. According to a will presented by the church’s lawyer during Vimbeni’s funeral, he chose his cousin Vela as his successor.

However, the church’s senior leaders expressed their preference for his son Mduduzi Shembe.After failing to convince the church’s elders that Vimbeni had nominated him, Vela took the matter to court.

Cebekhulu told the court he had the succession conversation with Vimbeni when he asked him to be a chief negotiator for Vela.“I had the succession conversation with the late leader between 1997 and 1998 in Folweni, in the Umbumbulu area.

“He [Vimbeni] told me not to tell anyone.”Cebekhulu said that in 2000, Vimbeni sent him to take a copy of Vela’s identity document to the offices of his lawyer Zwelabantu Buthelezi.

“I kept the secret for two years before revealing it to my friends Gisbon Ncube and the late Mphathesithe Ngubane.” He also told the late chief of Amaqadi clan, Mzonjana Ngcobo, in 2002 that Vela would take over from Vimbeni when he died.

“Ngcobo did not take the news very well, he was upset that I was discussing the succession of the church.” He said Ngcobo laid a complaint to Vimbeni and he was called in for a disciplinary hearing.

Cebekhulu’s membership of Vimbeni’s delegation was suspended because he had revealed that Vela was to be his successor.

Asked if he had betrayed Vimbeni, Cebekhulu said: “Yes, I did betray him but I was not defying him. I had my reasons for revealing the secret.”

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