Shembe sites get protection

2012-07-12 00:00

THREE sites of the Nazareth Baptist Church, commonly known as the Shembe Church, have been declared provincial heritage landmarks, along with the Mandela Capture Site outside Howick.

The Shembe sites are Ekuphakameni village, Ebuhleni village and the Nhlangakazi Holy Mountain, all at Inanda.

They are among seven sites in KwaZulu-Natal that form part of the provincial heritage landmarks, the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Council (Amafa) said yesterday.

Others are Himeville magistrate’s residence, Aloe Creek near Ladysmith and the old Inanda surgery and post office.

Amafa chief executive Barry Marshall said these landmark sites would fall under the authority of the province and could not be interfered with or altered without Amafa’s permission.

The Mandela Capture Site is where Madiba was captured on August 5, 1962. The car in which he was travelling was stopped along the R103 and he was arrested on the spot. This led to his lengthy imprisonment at Robben Island.

Marshall said the site had been a memorial, but had never been officially proclaimed a monument.

“We’re not happy with the status of the monument and it’s not suitable for the person we’re honouring.

“Right now it’s just bricks with marble and that’s not impressive,” said Marshall.

But this will change soon as millions of rands have been invested in upgrading the memorial.

The Mandela Museum and a memorial project was launched last year. The project will reportedly cost a total of R100 million on completion.

Nhlangakazi Holy Mountain attracts thousands of worshippers from the Shembe Church annually.

Ekuphakameni Village contains historic and contemporary Shembe Church buildings and the burial site of the church’s founding leaders. The church’s “holy vessels” are stored there.

Ebuhleni Village is the headquarters of the largest grouping of the Shembe Church and the site is used for annual pilgrimages and sacred dances.

Said Shembe’s spokesperson, Enoch Mthembu: “We’re so happy … at last the work of the late Prophet Isaiah Shembe is acknowledged. It was long overdue.”

Mthembu praised Shembe for administering peace in the province in times of violence.

“Prophet Isaiah Shembe called all these men and said they must use their shields, spears and sticks to worship God. He took them and accepted them when no one would,” Mthembu said.

“And was the first person in KwaZulu-Natal to baptise people in water.”

He thanked Amafa for the good work.

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