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Legal action looms over Shembe march in Durban

29 September 2021 - 14:41
Durban residents marvelled at the sea of white as the Nazareth Baptist Church embarked on a 'peace walk' on Tuesday.
Durban residents marvelled at the sea of white as the Nazareth Baptist Church embarked on a 'peace walk' on Tuesday.

Members of the Ebuhleni faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church could face legal action after a march which saw thousands of congregants descend on Durban's CBD on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday police spokesperson Col Thembeka Mbele confirmed that a docket had been opened at the Durban Central police station for contravening Disaster Management Act regulations.

Mbele said the matter was under investigation and could not confirm whether anyone had been arrested. 

Durban's city centre was brought to a standstill on Tuesday when congregants – estimated to be about 10,000 – of the Nazareth Baptist Church descended for a “peace walk”.

The walk was aimed at seeking intervention from the ANC regarding an ongoing leadership dispute within the religious organisation.

Dressed in their traditional robes, a blanket of white was cast over the streets of the CBD as congregants pledged their support for their preferred leader, Mduduzi “uNyazilwezulu” Shembe.

Concerns have been raised about the march being a Covid-19 superspreader, as the police failed to intervene and manage the situation. 

An application for the march was approved by the eThekwini municipality under the impression that there would not be more than 500 people in attendance, in line with Covid-19 regulations.

Metro police spokesperson Supt Parboo Sewpersad said it was the mandate of SAPS' public order police to intervene in terms of crowd management. 

Mbele failed to answer why SAPS didn't handle the situation. 

Shembe, son of the church’s late leader Vimbeni, has endured a number of legal blows in his bid to lead the church, which boasts more than 5-million followers.

In June, a Constitutional Court judge refused to entertain his appeal to have the apex court challenge a ruling made by the supreme court.

The battle for control of the church started in 2011, soon after the death of Vimbeni. The church has in the past accused KZN premier Sihle Zikalala of favouring its rivals, the Thembezinhle faction.



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