Shembe court hearing to continue next month

2011-07-04 11:05

A hearing to determine who is the legitimate leader of the Nazareth Church will start on August 29, the Durban High Court heard today.

Legal representatives of the church’s feuding leaders were in court today to determine the date for the hearing.

The disagreement over whether Mduduzi Shembe or Vela Shembe should head the church, which is popularly known as the Shembe Church, began when its leader Vimbeni Shembe died in April.

Both claim to be the legitimate leader.

According to the will presented by the church’s lawyer during Vimbeni’s funeral, the late leader chose Vela as his successor, but the church’s senior leaders chose his son Mduduzi.

Vela Shembe took the matter to court.

Trevor Nkosi, Vela’s lawyer, said the matter would be argued on August 29.

Before Vimbeni’s death, the church had four factions – three in KwaZulu-Natal and a fourth in Gauteng. Vimbeni led the biggest, with about five million followers.

The Nazareth Baptist Church was founded by Isaiah Shembe in 1910.

Often violent family disputes over succession have plagued the church since the 1970s.

Today, Vela’s supporters who wore the church’s customary white attire, carried placards and were singing.

After the court proceedings, they all moved to Albert Park, and traffic on Diakonia Avenue came to a standstill.

They were addressed by the church’s senior leaders.

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