In November 1837 Piet Retief, hoping to be given vacant land for Boer settlers met with King Dingane at Mgungundlovu. As part of an agreement, Retief agreed to retrieve 300 Zulu cattle stolen by Sikonyela.
Retief deceived Sikonyela and ransomed him for all his cattle, guns and horses. Apart from the 300 Zulu cattle, Retief auctioned the balance of the spoils. In February 1838 Retief returned to Mgungundlovu and was received by King Dingane who was already wary of white settlers. Retief’s handling of Sikonyela confirmed King Dingane’s suspicions and after a meeting on 6 February 1838, the Retief party were taken to Kwamatiwane (Execution hill) and killed.
Today the site is marked with a memorial at the top of the hill and a mass grave where the remains of the Boer party were buried.
The hill was named Kwamatiwane after the leader of the amaNgwane people, Matiwane, who was put to death on the hill in 1829, along with his followers.