The Constitutional Court on Tuesday dismissed an application by the eBuhleni faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church (Shembe) challenging a lower court ruling that its rival, the Thembezihle faction, was the legitimate leadership of the church.
Two years ago the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of the Durban High Court that Vela Shembe, who was aligned to the Thembezinhle faction was the legitimate successor to the late church’s spiritual leader, Vimbeni Shembe.
However, the eBuhleni faction led by Vimbeni Shembe’s son, Mduzuzi, appealed the court’s decision at the Constitutional Court.
Delivering the ConCourt’s judgment on Tuesday, Constitutional Court Judge Leona Theron described the application as “academic”.
“The applicant’s appeal is abstract and an academic exercise at its best which this court ought not to entertain,” she said.
With its main base in KwaZulu-Natal, the Shembe Church has more than five million followers.
Tuesday’s ConCourt ruling means that Vimbeni Shembe’s cousin, Vela, is the rightful leader of the church.