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Matatiele is located in Eastern Cape
Matatiele is located in South Africa
Matatiele is located in Africa
 Matatiele shown within Eastern Cape
Coordinates: 30°20′32″S 28°48′22″E / 30.34222°S 28.80611°E / -30.34222; 28.80611Coordinates: 30°20′32″S 28°48′22″E / 30.34222°S 28.80611°E / -30.34222; 28.80611
Country South Africa
Province Eastern Cape
District Alfred Nzo
Municipality Matatiele
 • Total 11.20 km2 (4.32 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 12,466
 • Density 1,100/km2 (2,900/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 83.5%
 • Coloured 9.5%
 • Indian/Asian 2.6%
 • White 4.1%
 • Other 0.4%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Xhosa 48.3%
 • Sotho 23.5%
 • English 14.3%
 • Afrikaans 7.5%
 • Other 6.4%
Postal code (street) 4730
PO box 4730
Area code 039

Matatiele is a mid-sized town serving the farming and trading communities of East Griqualand in the foothills of the western Drakensberg, Eastern Cape, South Africa, on the border with KwaZulu-Natal and 20 km from the southern frontier of Lesotho. Dairy farming is the principal activity. Good trout fishing is to be had in the numerous streams of the area. As a town, Matatiele is the reference point for all of the northern Transkei.

The name "Matatiele" is clearly a Sotho word, based on the Sesotho phrase "matata aile" meaning "the ducks have gone" (but this suggestion runs into the problem that the town's name is [matatiɛla] and not *[matatiilɛ]). In Phuthi, the town name is pronounced "Madadiyela". The common informal name for the town in any of the languages mentioned, including English, is "Matat".

The residents in and around Matatiele, as in most of the northern Transkei region, are generally bilingual in Hlubi and Sotho. Many speak some English. Some also speak as a home language (or as a language of heritage) Phuthi, especially residents in Tsitsong and Tšepisong.

Evidence of Stone Age inhabitants in the form of art adorning rocks are found throughout the area. In the early 1860s the Griquas settled here after migrating across the Drakensberg from Philippolis. The town was the centre of cattle rustling and gun-running and order was only restored in 1874 by the Cape Mounted Riflemen. The town became a municipality in 1904.

In 2005, the municipality was moved from the KwaZulu-Natal province to the Eastern Cape as part of the Twelfth Amendment of the Constitution of South Africa, over the objections of the majority of residents, some of whom in response founded the African Independent Congress. On 18 August 2006 the Constitutional Court ruled that the part of the 12th Amendment dealing with the transfer of Matatiele from KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape was invalid due to insufficient consultation with stakeholders.[2] The situation was eventually resolved, and Matatiele was confirmed as part of Eastern Cape province under the 13th Amendment.[3]

Notable people of Matatiele[edit]