New row in Shembe leadership as ‘trustee’ is appointed

2014-03-14 00:00

THERE is a furore around the legitimate leadership of the Shembe Church again.

This after allegations that the master of the high court in Pietermaritzburg has allegedly taken it upon itself to appoint a leader in the Shembe Church, despite cases currently being before the courts to decide on the legitimate leader.

However, others believe that the master has only appointed a trustee and that this position did not represent the leadership.

For more than three decades, the church has been rocked by leadership disputes, leading it to break into four different factions — the Ekuphakameni, Ebuhleni, Ethembezinhle and Eginyezinye — which are all involved in court cases to decide the leader.

Ginyezinye discovered the “illegal appointment” of Muhle Vela Shembe, the leader of Ethembezinhle faction, as the trustee of the church.

They tried to get the appointment reversed without success and have since reported the master to the Public Protector.

Arthur Nxumalo, the executive committee chairperson in the Eginyezinye faction, said the appointment of Muhle effectively overrides the court cases happening in Durban and Pietermaritzburg to settle the leadership disputes.

Muhle (J.G. Shembe’s son) is the cousin of the late Vimbeni Shembe (A.K. Shembe’s son), who died a few years ago, and the uncle of Mduduzi Shembe, the leader of Ebuhleni faction. At one point, both were members of Ebuhleni.

At the funeral of Vimbeni, different speakers publicly named Muhle and Mduduzi as successors of Vimbeni, leading to another leadership row that led to a split and the formation of the Ethembezinhle faction.

Nxumalo said Inkosi Sizwe Shembe of Eginyezinye had gone to the master’s office on another matter when he stumbled on the appointments that had been made.

“What the master’s office has done is corruption; they have appointed a leader of the church despite the fact that the court is yet to decide on who is the leader … When we tried to get them to reverse that, they refused,” said Nxumalo.

Correspondence between the master’s office and the Eginyezinye dates back to 2011. When that communication failed with the master’s office steadfast in its appointment of Muhle as a trustee, Sizwe turned to the Public Protector.

He said there was a time when both men were appointed as trustees but somehow the dual appointment was cancelled by the master and a new appointment done without the proper court order. He said he tried several times to have the master remove the appointment but was unsuccessfully.

In a letter of response to Sizwe Shembe, signed by a P. Moodley, the deputy master of the KZN high court said that they were not in a position to retract the letters of authority issued.

Mfundisi Nzama, spokesperson for the Ebuhleni faction, said as far as they were aware, the trustee issue was still to be decided in court.

Nkululeko Mthethwa, spokesperson of the Ethembezinhle, said, “… If he [Sizwe] feels aggrieved, he has every right to take the matter to court and seek remedy.”

Attempts to speak to Inkosi Vukile Shembe of Ekuphakameni were unsuccessful.

A senior member with knowledge of the legal battles said the trustee and the leadership of the church are two different things; being appointed trustee does not mean you are automatically the leader.

The master’s office did respond to media queries.

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