Shembe church must stay united after leader's death: Sanco

2017-11-26 22:50

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Cape Town - The Nazareth Baptist Church needs unity in the wake of the death of its spiritual leader Vela Shembe, to provide spiritual leadership and guidance, the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) said on Sunday.

"That unity is what the Shembe church needs particularly at this stage for it to continue to provide spiritual leadership and guidance to millions of its followers in our nation and beyond South Africa’s borders," Sanco spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu said in a statement.

In a message of condolences to Shembe's family and church devotees, Sanco said the death was not only a loss to the multi-million member church, but to the general African independent churches movement.

These churches always asserted the unity of the African people and played an important role in giving hope to communities during the dark days of oppression and apartheid rule, said Mahlangu.

Shembe's death on Thursday night, of causes yet to be determined, came less than a month after the Pietermaritzburg High Court reserved judgment on a leadership contest that has gripped the church since 2011.

After former leader Vimbeni Shembe died in March 2011, his son, Mduduzi, and Vela, who was Vembeni's cousin, both claimed to be the rightful heirs.

At Vimbeni's funeral in April 2011, two separate announcements were made regarding who would succeed him.

In one, his lawyer Zwelabantu Buthelezi said that according to the deed of nomination that Vimbeni had prepared before his death, Vela should be the successor.

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

They could not settle the dispute themselves so they approached the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban. In October 2016, the court found in favour of Vela.

However, Mduduzi was granted leave to appeal, and judgment was reserved in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on October 23.

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