AmaNazarene celebrate as Vela Shembe’s faction is ruled leader of the church

13 April 2018 - 16:29
By Yasantha Naidoo
Image: Thinkstock Gavel. File photo.

There was joyous singing and dancing at the high court in Pietermaritzburg following the declaration that Vela Shembe’s Thembizinhle faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church was the rightful leader of AmaNazarene

The battle for control of the church‚ which has five million members‚ has raged between the Ebhuleni and the Thembizinhle factions since the death of Vimbeni Shembe in 2011‚ with the parties turning to the courts to decide who its rightful leader was.

The Ebhuleni faction is headed by Vimbeni's son Mduduzi Shembe while his father's brother‚ the late Vela Shembe‚ headed the Thembizinhle faction. Vela Shembe died in 2017 and was replaced by Phinda Shembe.

In October 2016‚ Judge Achmat Jappie ruled in the high court in Durban that Vela was the rightful leader of the church based on a deed of nomination‚ which he declared was valid.

But the matter was taken on appeal by the Ebhuleni faction‚ which contested the veracity of the document.

The matter was reserved for judgment by a full Bench included Deputy Judge President Isaac Madondo‚ Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and Judge Jerome Mnguni. Although one ruled in favour of the applicant‚ it was the majority that ruled in favour of the respondent.

Trevor Nkosi‚ who represented the Thembinzinhle faction‚ said they had been confident of a win. "The evidence was strong‚ the witnesses corroborated the evidence and even the doctor‚ who treated the late Vimbeni‚ confirmed with him three times about the nomination for his successor."

Nkosi confirmed that while Madondo ruled in favour of the Ebhuleni faction‚ while Poyo-Dlwati and Mnguni ruled in favour of the Thembinzinhle faction.

Lizwi Ncwane‚ spokesperson for the Ebuhleni faction‚ didn't respond to queries.