Joseph Engenas Matlhakanye Lekganyane

sahoboss's picture
Posted by sahoboss on

Biographical information

Joseph Engenas Lekganyane


Bishop and leader of St Engenas Zion Christian Church (the Dove).

First name: 
Middle name: 
Engenas Matlhakanye
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
21 January 1931
Location of birth: 
Date of death: 
11 November 1972
Location of death: 
Warmberg, Pietersburg District

Joseph Lekganyane was born in 21 January 1931 in Moria. His father is the founder of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) in 1910. He attended school up to standard six and later a junior certificate (standard nine).

Joseph Lekganyane’s prominence in the church developed when he became a personal driver for his father. This position brought him closer to various church leaders and the inner working of the ZCC. After the death of his father, Joseph Lekganyane claimed leadership of the church. However, his brother Edward Lekganyane disputed his claim after his return from Natal where he worked. This caused serious conflict leading to the split of the church in the ZCC of the Dove and ZCC of the Star as their respective symbols. ZCC (Dove) was headed by Joseph Lekganyane and its stronghold was in rural areas. Edward Lekganyane’s stronghold was in urban areas, especially Johannesburg, were many people still believed that succession should follow traditional lines of primogeniture. On 15 September 1949, elders of the Church and Advocate P Roos installed Joseph Lekganyane as leader of a divided ZCC.

His branch of ZCC consisted of only 6 000 members. He raised the membership of the church to nearly 1 million people by the time of his death. In 1965, in honour of his father and founder of ZCC, he changed the name of the church to St Engenas ZCC and added a symbol of a dove to the ZCC badge. After a serious illness in 1967, Joseph died. Prior to his death, he appointed his second son, Engenas Joseph Lekganyane, as successor and he became Bishop in 1975.

Joseph Lekganyane died in 1972, leaving behind his wife, Mothlago Flora Molopa, whom he married in 1960 and two sons and two daughters.

• Verwey, E.J. (ed)(1995). New Dictionary of South African Biography, v.1, Pretoria: HSRC.

Last updated : 23-Jan-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.