Shembe members gather outside court

2011-07-04 08:52

Thousands of members of the Nazareth Church have gathered outside the Durban High Court where its two feuding leaders are appearing today.

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 claimed to be the legitimate leaders.

Vimbeni chose Vela as his successor, but the church’s senior leaders of the church chose Vimbeni Shembe’s son Mduduzi.

Vela Shembe took the matter to court.

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 the members of the church outside the court wore its customary white attire, carried placards and sang.

Senior church leaders were expected to address them after the court proceedings.

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