Shembe church leader rubbishes death claims

2017-02-15 12:50
The Durban High Court ruled that Vela Shembe  was the legitimate leader of the Shembe church. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

The Durban High Court ruled that Vela Shembe was the legitimate leader of the Shembe church. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban – The legitimate leader of the Nazareth Baptist Church (Shembe), Inkosi Vela Shembe, has rubbished "malicious" rumours of his death.

"Vela is alive and kicking. Although he is hurt by the rumours, he is not taking it to heart," his spokesperson Nkululeko Mthethwa said on Wednesday.

The church has sought to put an end to the rumours of his death, following claims on Facebook made by a woman Mthethwa believes is a member of the Mduduzi Shembe faction. The faction recently lost a High Court bid which sought to declare Mduduzi the legitimate leader of the church, following his father's death in 2011.

The battle for supremacy in the multi-million member church had been playing out in court since its leader Vimbeni Shembe's death in March 2011.

His son, Mduduzi, and Vimbeni's cousin, Vela, both claimed to be his rightful heirs.

In line with the church's constitution, which was adopted in 1999, Vimbeni nominated his successor in writing and left the deed of nomination with his attorney, Zwelabantu Buthelezi.

Disgruntled faction

Buthelezi read out the deed of nomination during Vimbeni's funeral in April 2011. In it, Vela was named as the successor.

However, Vimbeni's childhood friend, Inkosi Mqoqi Ngcobo, announced that Vimbeni's son Mduduzi was the rightful heir.

The announcement prompted Vela to approach the court, as he believed Ngcobo and others were trying to rob him of what was rightfully his.

In October, Vela was declared the legitimate leader of the church, however Mduduzi's faction is appealing the matter.

Mthethwa said he believed the rumours were started by a disgruntled member of Mduduzi's faction.

A woman named Phumelele Goqo allegedly posted a message, which appears to have since been deleted, saying Vela had died.

'I'm sorry for what I said'

On Wednesday morning, she posted an apology in isiZulu, saying: "Guys, I heard that he had died and then I posted the message on my Facebook. As you all saw on my comments section that I was not sure, I was told by one of the members of the family that he had died.

"I am so sorry for what I had said," she said.

Mthethwa said the church was considering taking legal action against the woman who posted the message on Monday.

"We have tried to find her to confirm where she got the information and why she was spreading malicious rumours.

"The only thing that he [Vela] is worried about is that his congregation really wants this woman to account for the rumour she is spreading," said Mthethwa.

Spokesperson for Mduduzi's faction, Mhlaliseni Abraham Hlatshwayo, was not immediately available to comment on the matter.

Read more on:    durban  |  religion

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