30-year feud is finally over
Leaders of the two factions in the Shembe church met for the first time in more than 30 years yesterday to start a process of reconciliation.
The church has been embroiled in a leadership struggle for longer than its members care to remember.
The Nazareth Baptist Church, as the congregation is known, has been divided into two factions.
Problems began after the death of Johannes Galile Shembe in 1976 - the last person to lead a united church.
But yesterday's meeting restored hope to millions of church members that they can finally be united. Leaders from both factions were laughing and shaking hands.
The eKuphakameni faction was led by inkosi Vukile Shembe and the eBuhleni was led by inkosi Vimbeni Shembe, and it was agreed that they should have another meeting on Tuesday. Spokesmen for both sides described the meeting as a huge success.
Edward Ximba, spokesman for the eKuphakameni faction, said this was the beginning of the way forward.
"Both sides reached common ground. It is the first time in 30 years and makes us proud."
Mhlephila Mthethwa of the eBuhleni faction said they were overjoyed by the friendly spirit that characterised the meeting. Both factions agreed in principle that the case currently in the Durban high court should be withdrawn.
"Our legal teams will meet to make submissions in court that we want the case withdrawn before our next appearance on March 8. We want the whole world to know that we have found peace with each other," said Mthethwa.