Shembe church leader dies
Shembe Bapist Church leader Vimbeni Shembe died on Monday morning, a church spokesman said.
“I can confirm that Mbusi Vimbeni Shembe has passed away. This happened this morning (Monday) after he was gravely ill,” said Pat Dooms, spokesperson for Phakama Shembe, who leads the breakaway Gauteng branch.
Shembe was in his late 70s and headed one of four factions of the church.
According to the church’s blog, he led the church since 1933.
His branch of the church has over one million followers, most of whom are Zulus.
The church has four factions all claiming to be the legitimate leaders of the Shembe Church.
The war for control of the charismatic church, founded in 1910, has raged for decades.
According to a story on www.timeslive.co.za, the church is estimated to worth R100-million.
The four factions took each other to court over who is the legitimate heir to church founder Prophet Isaiah Shembe.
Turmoil was sparked by the death of Isaiah Shembe's successor, Bishop Galilee Shembe, in 1976.
Two factions surfaced, led by the bishop's brother Amos Shembe and the bishop's son Londa Shembe.
The church is now split into four groups: Ebuhleni, which was led by Amos's son Vimbeni Shembe, who is regarded as the wealthiest and most powerful; Ekuphakameni led by Londa's son Vukile Shembe; Ginyezinye, led by Sizwe Shembe, the bishop's grandson; and a Gauteng faction led by another of the bishop's grandsons, Phakama Shembe.
Vimbeni Shembe’s spokesperson Chance Sibisi refused to comment on the leader’s death and did not want to confirm if he had passed away. -