The deceased leader of the Shembe church was healthy enough to give a blessing the day he issued written instructions on who was to succeed him, the Durban High Court heard on Tuesday.
Preacher Phendulani Manqele testified that on March 16, 2011, Vimbeni Shembe gave a blessing at the Umlazi temple to church members who had brought him gifts.
The Shembe church, also known as the Nazareth Baptist Church, has been embroiled in a leadership battle since Shembe died last March. He had been the leader of its largest faction.
According to a will, Vimbeni apparently chose his cousin Vela Shembe as his successor, but some senior church leaders wanted his son Mduduzi to take the reins instead.
After failing to convince the church's elders that Vimbeni had nominated him, Vela took the matter to court.
Rajesh Choudre SC, for Mduduzi, told the court the Vimbeni's wife would testify that he was gravely ill on March 16.
Manqele told the court that he was at the church's headquarters in eBuhleni, selling pictures at the gate, when a group of people brought gifts to Vimbeni.
“When he came out he gave them a blessing for about 10 minutes,” Manqele said.
He testified that as a rule of thumb, Vimbeni always lit up and showed happiness when he gave a blessing.
He said he did not know how many people witnessed the blessing, as there were also onlookers.
Choudre said Vimbeni's wife Ndlunkulu kaMaseko would testify that he was weak and in extreme pain on March 16.
He said it was believed that Vimbeni gave a blessing to church members from Umlazi temple on March 6.
In November, the church's attorney Zwelabantu Buthelezi testified that its general secretary Chance Sibisi had delivered a letter that held the name of the person Vimbeni had nominated to lead the church.
The matter continues on Wednesday. - Sapa