Leader of Shembe Church dies after long illness

2011-03-29 00:00

THE leader of the largest faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church, popularly known as the Shembe church, inkosi Vimbeni Mbuso Shembe, died yesterday morning.

His death came just one month short of his 78th birthday, after an illness that started in September last year, according to family members.

Bishop Shembe became the leader of the biggest faction of the church, Ebuhleni, in 1995, following the death of his father, inkosi Amos Kula “AK” Shembe.

He remained the leader of the faction until his death.

Rumours of his illness began to circulate in earnest in January when the church elders refused to let him to go to the holy mountain of Nhlangakazi for an annual pilgrimage.

The move made many of his followers unhappy because it was a tradition for Shembe to lead them when going on the annual pilgrimage.

His son, Nhlanhla Shembe (37), said he blames the church spokesperson, Chancy Sibisi, for denying his father proper medical attention because when he went to see his father on Sunday night he was in a critical condition and he should have been taken to the hospital.

“Chancy Sibisi refused my sister Zanele and I chance to see our father in January because we heard rumours that he was very sick.

“The same person has been refusing to give us access to see our father on numerous occasions when all we wanted was to see the old man.”

He said he believed that his father’s death could have been triggered by the fact that he was isolated from his family.

“Even now I still do not know what the nature of his illness was and what could have caused his death.

“ … we were kept in the dark until his untimely death.”

Shembe described his father as a loving man.

“He was full of good advice and even if he was not happy about anything he did not shout but he would politely tell a joke. Later, when thinking about it, you would realise the message behind the joke,” he said.

The bishop leaves behind a wife, three sons, two daughters, 15 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

The family has not met to discuss the funeral arrangements.

An attempt to get a comment from Sibisi was unsuccessful. He told The Witness he had not prepared a comment for the media, but would make a statement about the matter in the next few days.

With the death of the Reverend Mini Shembe late last year and now of Bishop Vimbeni, this leaves the Shembe Church with only two people in the court battle for the role of titular head of the church of six million.

They are Vukile Shembe, who is the leader of second largest faction, Ekuphakameni, and Sizwe Shembe of the Ginyezinye faction.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.