The church today

Despite the authorities' attempts to silence Nontetha and stamp out her following, the church is still going strong today, with between 20 000 and 30 000 members.

"'The Church of the Prophetess Nontetha' has an estimate of 20 000 followers, with 12 branches spread through the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. There are six branches around King William's Town, three in East London, and branches in Knysna, Jeffreys Bay, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The church's headquarters is in King William's Town."

- Sakhumzi Thole, secretary-general of the Church of the Prophetess Nontetha

back to the Nontetha Nkwenkwe memorial page

"Nontetha is walking in a trance, eyes closed, waiting on the word of God"
Lynnley Watson
Nontetha Nkwenkwe, painted by Lizo Pemba
Picture: Courtesy of the church of the prophetess Nontetha


In this lesson plan, learners are asked to decide whether the prophetess Nontetha was incarcerated because the authorities thought she was mentally ill, or whether they had political reasons for branding her as mad. Learners will be examining a medical report, letters from Nontetha's followers and the response from the Native Affairs Department.

Lesson plan
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Images from Notetha Nkwenkwe's life
A selection of images from Nontetha Nkwenkwe’s life and of the memorial to the prophetess outside the King William’s Town magistrate’s court.
The reburial of prophetess Nontetha
In 1935, the prophetess Nontetha Nkwenkwe died at Weskoppies mental hospital where she had been incarcerated for preaching politically incendiary messages in the Eastern Cape. Fifty-three years later, in 1998, after a long search for her grave, she was re