Another Shembe joins battle

2010-05-25 00:00

THE much anticipated court battle for the control of the Nazareth Baptist Church, also known as the Shembe Church, was postponed yesterday after a fourth faction joined the fray as the matter went before the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

Judge Mjabuliseni Madondo had to postpone the decisive case after the Reverend Mini Shembe lodged court papers two weeks ago indicating that he wants to be considered when the court decides who is going to be the titular head of the church of six million.

Before Mini Shembe had lodged his papers, the battle for the control of the church was among three factions — the eBuhleni faction under Inkosi Vimbeni Shembe, the eKuphakameni under Inkosi Vukile Shembe and the Ginyezinye faction under the Inkosi Sizwe Shembe.

The case was scheduled to run from yesterday until June 4, and all factions were expected to present their claims.

But before the matter went before court yesterday, legal representatives of all factions met for three hours and concluded that Mini Shembe’s side ought to be considered. This led to the case being postponed for at least three months.

There will be a pre-hearing conference at which all legal representatives will agree on what will be brought before court. The court will then give the dates for the court run, which is expected to be next year.

Since the death of Inkosi Johannes Galile “JG” Shembe, the last legitimate leader of the Shembe church in the 1970s, the church has been plagued by divisions that saw the eKuphakameni, Ginyezinye and eBuhleni factions emerging.

eBuhleni, which is based in the Mzinyathi area north of Durban, is the biggest with an estimated five million followers.

The second-biggest faction, eKuphakameni, took control of the church’s headquarters in eKuphakameni in Inanda, north of Durban.

The third faction, Ginyezinye, which is based at Trustfeed outside Pietermaritzburg, emerged recently during the court battles between the first two factions.

In an interview with The Witness outside the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, the Reverend Mini Shembe, who had supported the Ginyezinye faction all along, said he had decided to enter the fray because, as one of JG’s sons, he has a right to a claim in the church’s trust.

The church has properties all over KwaZulu-Natal and the rightful titular leader will be in charge of the Shembe Church’s entire multimillion-rand estate.

“In my affidavit, I explained why I have to be made a trustee and why I believe the others don’t qualify,” Shembe said.

Among JG’s sons, Mini Shembe is the only one who is an ordained priest.

It is reported that when JG was still alive, he indicated that he would like the next leader of the church to be an ordained priest.

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