Shembe widow ‘knew about nomination’

2011-12-09 14:22

The wife of the late leader of the Nazareth Baptist Church knew the name of the person he nominated to lead it, the Durban High Court heard today.

General secretary of the institution, also known as the Shembe Church, Chance Sibisi testified that she had told him: “The letter that was delivered to attorney Zwelabantu Buthelezi on March 16 holds the name of the leader. I will say it with great respect, it’s Vela Shembe.”

Two of the church’s feuding factions have gone to court for a decision on who its leader should be. The dispute began in April with the death of Vimbeni Shembe, the leader of the church’s largest faction. Last month, the court heard that – according to a will – Vimbeni chose his cousin Vela Shembe as his successor.

However, some senior leaders of the church want Vimbeni’s son Mduduzi to take the reins.

Sibisi said: “On the Friday before the funeral I went to see the late leader’s wife. I asked her if there was anything Vimbeni uttered in his last days that he wanted us to honour.”

The late wife, Ndlunkulu Kamaseko, told Sibisi it was important to respect the March 16 letter.

He told the court that after speaking to her he approached Chief Mqoqi Ngcobo, a prominent leader of the church.

“I wanted to tell him the good news. I whispered to him that Vela had been appointed by the late leader to be the leader the church.”

He said Ngcobo was amazed at the news and said: “Why was it not the youngest son? It would have been better if it was the younger son.”

Sibisi joined the church in 1959. He had been its general secretary since 1985.

The late leader trusted Sibisi as he gave him the power of attorney to handle church matters in his absence, the court heard.

“I was responsible for the application of church sites, vehicles of the church which were purchased on higher purchase, an application for the church to be recognised as a non-profit organisation, and I dealt with constitutional matters.”

He said when the church’s constitution was adopted in 1999, he was one of the people who signed as a witness.

The trial continues on Monday.

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