Nomination of Shembe leader disputed

2011-11-18 14:31

Claims that late Nazareth Church leader Vimbeni Shembe verbally nominated his successor were a fabrication, the Durban High Court heard today.

This was the testimony of Zwelabantu Buthelezi, who was the leader’s lawyer at the time of his death.

“He [Vimbeni] would never make a verbal nomination because he had also been challenged by people who did not want him to lead the church when he came into power in 1995,” Buthelezi said.

The church has approached the court to determine its legitimate leader following the death of Vimbeni, the leader of its largest faction.

According to a will presented by Buthelezi at Vimbeni’s funeral on April 3, he chose his cousin Vela Shembe to be his successor.

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

Today, Rajesh Choudree SC, read an affidavit by Mduduzi in court, claiming that Vimbeni nominated him verbally on more than one occasion.

The verbal nomination was reportedly communicated to Chief Mqoqi, a prominent church member and traditional leader.

Mduduzi said: “The first time Vimbeni spoke of his successor was on 2 September 2010. He told Chief Mqoqi Ngcobo that he wanted me to be the leader of the Shembe Church if he were to pass away.”

Mduduzi stated that the late leader told Ngcobo on January 10, 2011 that he was sick and could die at any time.
According to the affidavit, Vimbeni told Ngcobo that he wanted Mduduzi to be his successor.

“On March 5, the late leader repeated his wish to Ngcobo. He wanted me to be his successor,” Mduduzi said in his affidavit.

Buthelezi disputed this.

“This was fabricated,” he told the court.

“If this was the case, Ngcobo would have told the congregation when he made the announcement that the late leader had told him the name of his successor.”

Buthelezi said that when Ngcobo announced the leader at the funeral, he told the congregation that he was making the appointment as a leader and because he had a right to do so.

“He would have never phoned me on April 1 to find out the name of the person nominated by Vimbeni [in his will],” said Buthelezi.

The matter continues. 

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