Court ends Shembe wrangle

2009-06-20 00:00

THE 32-year wrangle for the leadership of the Shembe Church was finally laid to rest in the high court in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday. The court ruled that Sizwe Shembe is the legitimate leader of the church.

The judgment by Judge Philip Levinson effectively ends a bitter battle for leadership, which has seen the Shembe church being split into three sections and members regularly taking each other to court in their bids to claim the leadership of the church.

It removes two other leaders, Vimbeni Shembe of Ebuhleni and Vukile Shembe of the Ekuphakameni.

The judgment ruled that Sizwe is the treasurer and also the only leader of the Church of Nazareth Ecclesiastical Endowment Trust.

Furthermore, he alone controls everything related to the church, including the church regalia, its sacred traditions and all the activities of the church.

Maqhawe Zondo, the lawyer of the Shembe church, said afterwards: “My client was dissatisfied with the way the church was run so petitioned the courts to remove the people who appointed themselves as leaders and so give himself the chance to clean up the mess they had made of the church”.

Zondo said the only recourse for the two deposed leaders is the courts. “The judgment is binding to all church members and those [who defy it] will be disciplined.”

The judgment will see the unification of the three factions, two in KwaZulu-Natal — Ekuphakameni and Ebuhleni — and another in Gauteng.

Sizwe said the judgment will bring back dignity to the church. He said that since his grandfather’s death, the church has split irreconcilably.

He vowed that the church will now go back to its origins and stick to the teachings of its founder.

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