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, isiXhosa and Sesotho. Many speak 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. The situation was eventually resolved, and Matatiele was confirmed as part of Eastern Cape province under the 13th Amendment.Mosiuoa Lekota, politician leader of the Congress of the People
Andile Jali, footballer
Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Public Works
Chris Jafta, judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa
Mthembeni Ndevu, popularly known as Emtee, hip hop musician and record producer
Monyane Ramollo, South Africa Web Developer and CEO who won 2015 African Corporate Excellence Award in 2015 Corporate Vision African Corporate Excellence Awards
Pierre Kok, footballer (Tuks)
Innocent Mdledle, footballer (Supersport United)
Mandla Galo, founder and president of the African Independent Congress
Siyabonga Siphika, former footballer Bush Buscks F.C. & Maritzburg United F.C.