Johannesburg - The Durban High Court will on Monday decide whether a handwriting expert may give evidence regarding the signature of the Shembe Church's deceased leader.

The church, also known as the Nazareth Baptist Church, has been embroiled in a leadership battle since its leader, Vimbeni Shembe, died last year.

Vimbeni's son Mduduzi and cousin Vela Shembe both want to succeed Vimbeni.

Vela argues that Vimbeni appointed him as a successor in a will, but has failed to convince church elders.

Michael Irving was expected to tell the court last week Thursday whether a signature on a 2000 deed of nomination naming Vela was authentic.

Rajesh Choudre SC, for Mduduzi, 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.

The court heard last month that Vimbeni had been well enough to bless a church member on March 16 last year.

Preacher Phendulani Manqele said Vimbeni had given a blessing for about 10 minutes. - Sapa