This is according to church spokesperson Nkululeko Mthethwa, who made the announcement at the funeral on Sunday.
Mthethwa said it was tradition that when a church leader died a successor was announced at the funeral. In this case, Mthethwa said he had been advised by lawyers representing the church to make the announcement on December 16.
“We urge all Nazareth followers to be present in church on December 16 when a new church leader will be announced,” said Mthethwa.
“The fallen leader had requested that his successor not be announced at his funeral, allowing church followers time to grieve,” he said.
When inkosi Vimbeni Shembe died in 2011, there was excitement in the church when Qadi chief Mqoqi Ngcobo announced at the funeral that the next church leader would be Mduduzi Shembe, leader of the Ebuhleni faction.
Mduduzi’s appointment would later be opposed by lawyers representing Vimbeni. They presented a letter in court allegedly written by Vimbeni which declared Vela as the new leader.
Premier Willies Mchunu said Vela died with many of his plans unfulfilled. According to Mchunu, one of those plans was to encourage people to live and lead honest lives.
“The province is saddened by the passing of Vela Shembe. We want unity from everyone in the province. Vela Shembe passed at a time when the church was locked in court succession battles,” said Mchunu.
Pastor Mthembeni Mpanza, representing the breakaway faction called Nazareth Church of God, appealed to everyone to reconcile.
“The church should be known for love and not violence. We shouldn’t let people create divisions within the church,” said Mpanza.
IFP MPL Blessed Gwala read a letter which had been written by former leader of the IFP, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
In the letter, Buthelezi speaks of plans to meet Shembe leaders to promote unity.