Delay in Shembe trial

By Drum Digital
19 March 2012

A court case involving two feuding factions of the Nazareth Baptist Church, also known as the Shembe Church, was delayed in the Durban High Court on Monday.

"New evidence was presented to us and we need a chance to consider," Archie Findlay SC, acting for one of the two camps, told the court.

The Shembe Church has been embroiled in a leadership battle since the death of Vimbeni Shembe, who was the leader of the largest faction.

Last year, the court heard that, according to a will, Vimbeni chose his cousin Vela Shembe as his successor. However, some senior leaders of the church wanted Vimbeni's son Mduduzi to take the reins.

After failing to convince the church's elders that Vimbeni had nominated him, Vela took the matter to court.

Shashi Marajh, for Mduduzi Shembe, said the late leader's attorney Dustan Farrell had provided important documents that would affect the testimony of the Shembe Church's general secretary Chance Sibisi.

In December, Sibisi told the court Vimbeni's wife Ndlunkulu KaMaseko knew the name of the person her husband had nominated to lead the church.

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."

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

In his testimony, he said Vimbeni had trusted him as he gave him the power of attorney to handle church matters in his absence.

Findlay, who acts for Vela Shembe, did not elaborate on the nature of the new evidence he wished to consider.

The case continues on Tuesday.

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