Nazareth Church’s former leader nominated successor, court hears

2011-11-15 12:51

The Nazareth Church’s former leader, Vimbeni Shembe, nominated his successor before he died, his medical doctor at the time testified today.

“I saw Vimbeni on February 21 for a consultation. I raised the question of his succession within his organisation,” Dr Charles Robert told the Durban High Court.

“The prophet (Vimbeni) made it clear to me not to worry. The matter was being taken care of by his lawyer.”

The court has been approached to determine the Shembe Church’s legitimate leader.

The leadership battle began in April with the death of Vimbeni, the leader of the largest faction of the church.

According to a will presented by the church’s lawyer at Vimbeni’s funeral, he chose Vela Shembe as his successor.

However, the church’s senior leaders expressed their preference for his son, Mduduzi.

After failing to convince the church’s elders that Vimbeni had nominated him, Shembe took the matter to court.

The late Shembe was Vela’s cousin.

Senior counsel Archie Findlay called Robert as a witness as he had been Vimbeni’s doctor since September 2007.

Robert told the court that he raised the question of succession with Vimbeni again on March 2 and March 8.

He testified that on both occasions Vimbeni told him his lawyer had everything under control.

Robert said Vimbeni told him: “My lawyer will announce my successor at the appropriate time.”

The doctor said he was not told who the lawyer was or when the successor would be announced.

He said he raised the question of succession with Vimbeni three times, because he knew he came from a large organisation.

He testified that he had a close relationship with Vimbeni.

The matter continues.

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