File image - The late Bishop Vimbeni Shembe

Durban - A second handwriting expert told the Durban High Court on Tuesday that the disputed signature on the deed of nomination of the late leader of the Shembe Church was authentic.

Forensic document examiner Jannie Bester said he had compared the disputed signature and the original signature.

“The writer of the specimen signature is also the writer of the disputed signature,” he said.

The Shembe Church, which is also known as the Nazareth Baptist Church, has been embroiled in a leadership battle since its leader Vimbeni Shembe died in 2011.

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

According to a will, Vimbeni chose Vela as his successor, but some senior church leaders want Mduduzi to take over.

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

Bester was instructed to authenticate the signature of Vimbeni on his deed of nomination dated February, 11, 2000.

He said he did not identify any fundamental handwriting differences between the specimen of Vimbeni and the disputed signature on the deed of trust.

“I identified various corresponding guiding characteristics between the collected specimen of the writer and the disputed signature.

“I also examined the signature for characteristics of forgery, of which none were identified,” he said.

In December, forensic document examiner Michael Irving told the court the signature on the deed of nomination was authentic.

Colonel Frik Landman, another handwriting expert, is expected to tell the court that the signature on the deed of nomination was forged.

Bester has seen Landman's report. He said he did not agree with his opinion because he could not establish the methodology he followed in his examination of the signature.

“He did not interpret natural variation correctly and did not quite recognise examination standards,” Bester said.

He said Landman had not considered external influences, like the impact of signing such an important document.

Bester is the chairman of the SA Forensic Document Examination Association.

He trained with the Forensic Science Laboratory in the SA Police Service in 1993.

The trial continues on Wednesday. - Sapa