Fri Oct 21 22:28:26 SAST 2016

Shembe's unholy war

By unknown | Jan 30, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

A dark cloud is hanging over the Nazareth Baptist Church, known as Shembe, as infighting in the Ebuhleni-led branch threatens to divide the congregation.

On Monday, the "homes" of three church members were set alight. The "homes" are for temporary use during and after the 100km-long pilgrimage to Inhlangazi holy mountain.

This comes five days after two leaders were expelled from the Ebuhleni church and their homes set alight.

Now Ebuhleni elders fear for the safety of church leader and prophet Vimbeni Shembe.

Last Wednesday, pastors Mthembeni Ngema and Mandlenkosi Zwane, known confidantes of Vimbeni Shembe, were ejected from the church's headquarters at Inanda by some members of the congregation.

Ngema led 20000 members in the yearly spiritual walk to the holy mountain at Indwedwe. He is also a communion minister.

Zwane was also a church elder and evangelist preacher and handled several aspects related to the church.

Both Zwane and Ngema were known to have pushed for the return of three previously expelled pastors.

They had been accused of being double agents in that they were "loyal to Ebuhleni by day and to Ekuphakameni (rival faction) at night".

The homes of three other pastors were also vandalised and their belongings stolen before the month-long pilgrimage.

Pastor Armstrong Ndelu said they had prepared to take part in last weekend's church service.

"I had already prepared my clothes after I heard that our leader wanted us to participate in the service.

"After hearing that our other colleagues' homes were destroyed, we feared for our safety," Ndelu said.

He said they were also worried for the safety of prophet Shembe.

Ngema and Zwane were allegedly attacked a few hours after returning from the mountain last week.

Other church members now also feared for their lives.

"There are people in the church who do not take our prophet seriously anymore.

"There are criminals who have entered our church and they have no fear of God. How can people destroy reverend's properties?" Ndelu asked.

Bhekisisa Mthethwa, Ebuhleni spokesman, said it would be premature of him to give details on the matter.

"An urgent meeting between church leaders has been set for later this week to try to resolve the matter.

"Our prophet is not at peace with what is happening in the church," Mthethwa said.


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