‘Shembes’ back in court on Monday

2011-11-10 10:56

Senior members of the Nazareth Church, popularly known as the Shembe Church, will be back in the Durban High Court on Monday to determine its legitimate leader.

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

According to a will presented by the church’s lawyer during 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, Vela Shembe, who is a member of the Shembe family, took the matter to court.

Earlier this year, Mduduzi was interdicted from acting as a leader of the church and from using its resources. He defied the interdict and another court application followed.

Before Vimbeni’s death, the church had four factions – three in KwaZulu-Natal and a fourth in Gauteng.

Vimbeni led the biggest, with about 5 million followers.

The Nazareth Baptist Church was founded by Isaiah Shembe in 1910. Violent family disputes over succession have plagued the church often since the 1970s.

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