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Zikalala accused of trying to capture the Shembe Church

Nduduzo Memela of the Ebuhleni faction has lashed out at KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, saying he's using the church to score political points.

Thulezwile Ndawo and Nduduzo Memela of the eBuhleni faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church at a press conference on 26 December 2019. Picture: Nkosikhona Duma/EWN.

DURBAN - A faction of the Nazareth Baptist Church has accused KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala of trying to capture the church.

Nduduzo Memela of the Ebuhleni faction has lashed out at Zikalala, saying he's using the church to score political points.

The group held a media briefing in Durban on Thursday and rejected attempts by Zikalala to mediate between the warring Ebuhleni and Thembezinhle factions.

The Nazareth Baptist Church, also known as the Shembe Church, is estimated to have five million members.

Since the 1970s, it’s been embroiled in a bitter succession battle.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Appeal pronounced the late leader of the Thembezinhle faction Inkosi Vela Shembe as the legitimate leader of the church.

Meanwhile, Memela said: “One of the principles of our religion says we must not participate in political activities, we dispute political interventions or politicians’ interventions.”

The embattled church is said to be already divided into seven factions and battles among leaders are said to be over assets of the religious institution – which are believed to be worth millions.