Matubatuba was named after one of the longest serving Zulu chief, Nkosi Mtubatuba. This revered and respected Chief was reported to be a wealthy man and was frequently seen driving around the town on a donkey-drawn wagon, which he traded in during 1939 when he purchased his first motor car – a Pontiac.
Legend has it that the chief would habitually round up his closest and most trusted followers to assist him with counting his money. Calculating would begin in the early hours of the day, until eventually they all lost count and the money would be stored away for safe keeping until the Chief could face another counting day. Upon his death in 1955 at 100 years of age, trouble broke out among the tribesmen and although two potential successors had been put forward, a new Chief was never appointed.
The original town consisted of 102 residential and commercial plots and the face of the town took shape around it main income source, a railway siding. Mtubatuba has grown since its humble beginnings and in recent years has become a thriving commercial hub. The town has developed from a simple railway halt into a commercial nucleus and government administrative centre for the North Eastern region of Zululand.
The largest employers in the region are the agricultural sector, as well as timber and sugar cane farms. The Umfolozi Sugar Mill, which forms part of Illovo Sugar, is one of the main industrial giants in the area, creating employment for those who live in the tribal districts of Mtubatuba. The largest main town - Kwa-Msane has been identified by local Government as an area that is to undergo major development and upgrading, by improving infrastructure and providing amenities and shopping centres.
Additionally, the national Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has purchased a number of farms to the north of Monzi that have been earmarked for residential development in the near future. Mtubatuba has in the past been subjected to overcrowding in terms of suitable housing, with the majority of residents not able to secure homes closer to the main commercial localities within the Umkhanyakude municipal constituency.
Recent statistics released by Lightstone reveal that a total of 42 property transfers have taken place in the last 12 months. Full-title sales dominated the market and the average price paid for a home was R558 000. Interestingly, however, there was only one sale concluded in the same period in the sectional title market, where the property sold for R900 000.
Market stock makes up 93.25% of market share and 30% of the residents who reside in the district have lived in the area for longer than 11 years. With almost 500 000 residents the area caters for school-going students who attend schools such as Umfolozi Primary School or Mtubatuba Primary School. Nkodibe High School sees many young hopefuls leave the confines of their class rooms and go on to study at the University of Zululand - situated near Empangeni, or the Mangosuthu University of Technology on the outskirts of Durban - near Umlazi.