Shembe court battle delayed

2012-03-20 18:32

Durban - A legal battle between two feuding factions of the Nazareth Baptist Church, also known as the Shembe Church, was postponed by the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Tuesday.

The matter was adjourned until Thursday to give one of the legal teams time to consult witnesses, said Shashi Marajh, a representative of one of the church's factions.

The church has been embroiled in a leadership battle since the death of Vimbeni Shembe, who was the leader of the largest faction. Last year, the court heard that, according to a will, Vimbeni chose his cousin Vela Shembe as his successor.

However, some senior leaders of the church wanted Vimbeni's son Mduduzi to take the reins. After failing to convince the church's elders that Vimbeni had nominated him, Vela took the matter to court.

Marajh, for Mduduzi Shembe, said Vimbeni's attorney Dustan Farrell had provided important documents that would affect the testimony of the Shembe Church's general secretary Chance Sibisi. Sibisi had held the position since 1985, and had worked closely with Vimbeni.

In December, he testified that Vimbeni had trusted him as he gave him the power of attorney to handle church matters in his absence.

Marajh said on Tuesday: "[Archie] Findlay [SC, Vela's attorney] was given the contents of Farrell's files a month ago. On Monday, we gave him a synopsis of the evidence that Farrell was going to present in court."

Marajh said he was ready to proceed with the trial, but Vela's lawyer had asked for time to consult Sibisi and other witnesses.

"He [Findlay] also requested time to trace documents to refute the evidence of Farrell," he said.