Shembe faithful begin their yearly pilgrimage

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Thousands of Shembe faithful in KwaZulu-Natal began their yearly long walk to "the holy mountains" to pray for peace and unity in their church yesterday.

Members of the Nazareth Baptist Church, popularly known as Shembe, left in the morning to begin their walk to the Nhlangakazi mountain at Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

Police were present to ensure that there was no conflict between the two factions of the church.

Speaking to his followers at the start of the pilgrimage, Vukile Shembe called for unity within the church.

The Shembe church in the province is divided between the factions, eKuphakameni and eBuhleni. Both believe they are the "real" Shembe.

Edward Ximba, spokesman for eKuphakameni, said they would stay on the mountain until Sunday to allow the other faction to perform their ritual afterwards.