The leader of a smaller faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church‚ popularly known as the Shembe Church‚ has been declared the rightful leader of the church in a judgment handed down by the Durban High Court on Tuesday.
Judge Achmat Jappie ruled in favour of Vela Shembe‚ who is the leader of the Thembezinhle Church‚ who was fighting for control of the 5-million strong church.
The judgment brings to an end a five-year succession battle after the death of the church leader Vimbeni Shembe in 2011.
Vela Shembe left the court in high spirits while his rival and cousin‚ Mduduzi Shembe — Vimbeni’s son — who leads the biggest faction Ebuhleni‚ left the court dejected.
The losing faction will be appealing the judgment.
They have also been ordered to pay the costs.