Durban - There was only a one in 820 trillion chance of two people having the same handwriting, the Durban High Court was told on Monday.
This was the testimony of forensic document examiner Michael Irving under cross-examination.
He was being asked about variations in the signatures of the late Shembe Church leader Vimbeni Shembe.
The Shembe Church is embroiled in a leadership battle, which began last year after Shembe died. Vimbeni's son Mduduzi and cousin Vela Shembe both want to succeed him.
Vela has argued that Vimbeni appointed him as a successor in a will. He took the matter to court after failing to convince church elders that he was the rightful successor.
Irving was instructed to authenticate Vimbeni's signature on his deed of nomination.
He was given six documents with undisputed signatures of Vimbeni, which he compared to the signature on the deed.
When Irving compared the standard signatures to the disputed signature he found 27 similar characteristics. He found three variations from the undisputed signatures.
Last week, the court heard that Irving's findings would be disputed by Colonel Frik Landman, who found that the signature on the deed of nomination was forged.
Irving told the court on Monday there were “natural variations” in the six signatures and that these were to be expected as “nobody writes the same signature exactly the same 1/8way 3/8 twice”.
He said a forger who had practised the signature, might be able to pass it off unnoticed at a bank, because of visual similarities, however it would not pass the scrutiny of a hand-writing expert.
He said signatures changed over time, and changes could also be a result of the circumstances under which it was written, such as whether the person was sitting or standing.
Irving has practised as a forensic expert since December 1996 and has examined 1200 documents since then. He has worked for advocates, attorneys, banks, public companies, and the SA Revenue Service.
The case continues on Monday afternoon. - Sapa