By: Khanyisani Dlomo
Handwriting expert, Lieutenant-Colonel Frik Landman, told the Durban High Court on Thursday that the signature in the deed of Nazareth Baptist Church leadership nomination was faked.
Landman, who represents eBuhleni faction, led Mduduzi Shembe known as uNyazi LweZulu, was giving his observations after comparing the signature on the deed of nomination.
“There are no doubts that the signature is unauthentic,” Landman testified. “There must be significant similarities to show that the signature belongs to the same person.”
Thembezinhle faction, led by Vela Shemba and eBuhleni side have been embroiled in a court battle over the church leadership after its head, Vimbeni Shembe, died in 2011.
According to the will, the late Shembe chose Vela to succeed him but church elders want Mduduzi to take over. Vela then took the matter to court to have him declared the rightful leader.
Delivering his testimony, Landman said, “The length of the disputed signature is much shorter compare to the seven specimens. Commencing and terminal stokes; sequence, slant and size of characters, space between characters and baseline habit are not similar.”
Landman said the disputed signature lack “individualism and rhythm” and showed that it was not done “naturally”. The last ‘e’ in the word ‘Shembe’ in the deed of nomination signature shows that the person who “forged” the it was on a slow pace whereas there is fast and flying finish in the seven specimens, he said.
“B in the word ‘Shembe’ is below the writing line and none out of 30 bs compared, go below the line. The depth and highness of V in the signature of (M.V Shembe, the late) and V in ‘Vela’ do not match.
“M is connected to the following character and the shoulder is high and the other shoulder touches the line. B goes below the alignment. The left lower part of V is angular constructed. According to me, smoothness and pace in the disputed signature differ from the seven specimens.”
Landman, who has examined signatures in more than1000 trials, said experts Michael Irving, Jannie Bester and Leon Esterhyse, who had testified for Vela, observed these differences but chose to ‘ignore’ them.
“I have no personal issues against them but their testimonies are not objective, but subjective.”
In a grey suit in the corner, Vela kept on smiling and has been in full attendance while Mduduzi doesn’t attend often.
Meanwhile hundreds of eBuhleni followers gathered at Albert Park, wearing their white church uniforms and dancing, whilst others waited outside the court.
The trial adjourned to 11 November.
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