Things most people don’t know about late veteran broadcaster Dumile Mateza

Tributes are pouring in for legendary broadcaster Dumile Mateza, who passed away this week. PHOTO: Bomba Chauke

Tributes are pouring in for legendary broadcaster Dumile Mateza, who passed away this week. PHOTO: Bomba Chauke


This is one trait that become the veteran broadcaster’s trademark. He died on Tuesday at the age of 62 after a battle with cancer.

But there are other things some don’t know about the man who coined the phrase “uNkabi Phesheya phaya” in his soccer commentary:
  •  Mateza was one of the SABC’s first intake of black sports presenters and commentators in 1980.
  •  During the 1995 Rugby World Cup final between the Springboks and the All Blacks and during the Africa Cup of Nations final in 1996 between Bafana Bafana and Tunisia, he commentated in flawless Afrikaans. He would also switch to isiXhosa and English easily.
  •  Those close to Mateza recalled a moment of brilliance when the larger-than-life character saved boxing organisers much embarrassment by singing Colombia’s national anthem after the CD that was provided ahead of the main bout at the Orient Theatre in East London didn’t play.

Research and preparation defined his work, his long-time friend and protégé Putco Mafani told City Press this week.

. Mateza was so well-versed in most sports that he covered South African teams’ return to international competition after isolation due to apartheid. This included the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, the Proteas’ cricket tour of India in 1991 and Bafana Bafana’s first trip outside the country for the World Cup qualifiers.

Veteran local sports journalist, David Isaacson, who also covered the Barcelona Olympics, wrote in his obituary for Mateza in Times Live this week: “He became famous countrywide at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics for a gaffe he dished up on SABC TV during the opening ceremony.

“As the team of one nation walked on to the track during the march-by, the camera focused on a few athletes and Mateza asked in his poetic manner, ‘Who can ever forget the name of this well-known athlete?’ and proceeded to forget his name.

“That led to him being the subject of a sports question in a South African version of Trivial Pursuit.”

. There is also a story about Mateza being forced to run for cover because he was fluent in Afrikaans. Legend has it that he was accused of being an impimpi (a spy in township parlance) after some people in Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) learnt he was from Kareedouw in the Eastern Cape, a remote town established by white settlers in about 1750.

Afrikaans is the main language spoken there.

Lala ngoxolo, Nala!