Shembe leader to be buried on Sunday

2017-11-29 19:53
Vela Shembe. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Vela Shembe. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban – Vela Shembe, the late spiritual leader of the Nazareth Baptist Church, popularly known as Shembe, will be laid to rest at his home in uMthwalume on Sunday, on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, the church said on Wednesday.

"The memorial service and the funeral service will take place on the same day, which is Sunday at uMthwalume," church spokesperson Nkululeko Mthethwa told News24.

He said the official programme would start at 10:00.

Mthethwa said the church was expecting a large turnout for the funeral of its leader who died on Thursday night.

"We are expecting roughly 10 000 people on Sunday," he said.

The church is home to millions of worshippers.

Battle between 'rightful' heirs

In October 2016, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban declared that Vela was the church's legitimate leader following a long leadership battle between him and Mduduzi Shembe.

Vela's death last Thursday came a month after the Pietermaritzburg High Court reserved judgment on the 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 Vimbeni's cousin, were both announced as the rightful heirs during Vimbeni's funeral in April 2011.

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

Vimbeni's 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 which ruled in favour of Vela.

However, Mduduzi was granted leave to appeal.

Judgment was reserved in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on October 23.

Mthethwa confirmed that the KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership visited his home on Wednesday afternoon.

Premier Willies Mchunu and the province's ANC chair Sihle Zikalala visited Vela's home on Wednesday afternoon.

Mchunu made a commitment that the provincial government would provide the necessary support to the family following the church leader's death.

Read more on:    durban  |  religion

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