Court to rule on Shembe signature

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iol news pic  Vimbeni Shembe INLSA File Photo: Late leader of the Shembe church, Vimbeni Shembe.

A court ruling will be made on Monday on whether a handwriting expert may present his findings on the signature of the Shembe Church's dead leader.

“I intend handing down a ruling in this matter on Monday,” Durban High Court Judge Achmat Jappie said on Thursday.

The Shembe church, also known as the Nazareth Baptist Church, has been embroiled in a leadership battle since Vimbeni Shembe died last March. He was the leader of its largest faction.

According to a will, he apparently chose his cousin Vela Shembe as his successor, but some senior church leaders want his son Mduduzi to take the reins instead.

After failing to convince the church's elders of his nomination, Vela took the matter to court.

Handwriting expert Michael Irving was expected to tell the court if the signature on the 2000 deed of nomination naming Vela was authentic.

Rajesh Choudre SC, for Mduduzi, has objected to Irving presenting his findings in court, claiming he was not a reliable witness.

“His qualification is not sufficient because he (only ) did a foundation course with 20 modules, setting a basis for further experience,” Choudre said.

“We do not know the nature of the cases he has been involved in and we do not know if his evidence has ever been challenged.”

He said it was also not known if his evidence had been rejected in cases in which he had previously testified.

Archie Findlay SC, for Vela, told the court Irving had enough experience to be considered a credible witness. - Sapa

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