Shembe faction rejects high court ruling

WON: Shembe church leader Inkosi Sizwe Shembe.  circa May 2009. © Unknown.
WON: Shembe church leader Inkosi Sizwe Shembe. circa May 2009. © Unknown.

THE Nazareth Baptist Church (known as Shembe) Ekuphakameni faction led by prophet Vukile Shembe is unhappy with the Pietermaritzburg high court ruling that a rival is the legitimate leader of the church.

The ruling last week states that Isaiah Shembe's descendant, Sizwe Mudliwamafa Shembe, is the sole leader of the church's ecclesiastical endowment trust and titular head of the church.

Ekuphakameni faction spokesperson Velemafini "Edward" Ximba said he "knows nothing" about Judge Levinson's decision.

Ximba said they have seen the court order informing them that Sizwe is the leader.

"We do not know where this Sizwe comes from.

"As far as we know, he is an opportunist who wants to cash in on the legacy of the church.

"He must just go and find a job; our church is not a firm to feed him," he said.

Ximba said in Durban that his group was waiting for the court ruling in the matter between Vukile and Ebuhleni leader Vimbeni Shembe.

He said the court was "misled by Sizwe and his attorneys".

"There was a case opened by Ebuhleni against Sizwe but it had nothing to do with ecclesiastical endowment.

"Vimbeni demanded his payment after Sizwe had taken him to court and later withdrew the case," said Ximba.

He said they were surprised that a court could rule over who should be the leader while there is a case pending in the Durban high court.

"We think the court made a mistake and we have instructed our lawyers to look into it," he said.

The Shembe church has been embroiled in a leadership dispute for the past 32 years.

The church was founded in 1910 by Isaiah Shembe, with its headquarters in Ekuph-akameni in Inanda, north of Durban.

Sizwe's attorney Maqhawe Zondo said Ximba is not allowed to talk on behalf of the church.

"Ximba is not a leader of Shembe but has been given powers by a person who was stripped of the powers."

l Yesterday we mistakenly captioned Maqhawe Zondo as Sizwe Shembe.

We apologise for the inconvenience.