In October1837, Piet Retief, Voortrekker Leader at the time, visited Dingaan at the Royal Kraal. Retief was in high spirits at the prospect of negotiating a land deal for his people with Dingaan. In November 1837, about 1000 Voortrekker wagons started the descent down the Drakensberg from the Orange Free State into Natal. Dingaan asked Piet Retief for a token of their friendly intentions. Some of Dingaan’s cattle had been stolen by Chief Sekonyela and his tribesmen. He asked Retief to recover them. Retief and his party of 69 men recovered 700 head of cattle, 63 horses and a few rifles.
The party arrived back at uMgundlovu on 3 February 1838. On the following day, a treaty was signed, whereby Dingaan ceded all the land south of the Thukela River, as far as the Mzimvubu River, in the Transkei, to the Voortrekkers
On 6 February, Retief and his party were treated to a farewell dance by the Zulu impis. They were told to leave their firearms outside the royal kraal. Suddenly, when the dancing had reached a frenzied climax, Dingaan leapt to his feet and shouted “Bambani aba thakathi!” (“Kill the wizards!”) The men were totally overpowered and dragged away to a hill called kwaMatiwane, named after a chief who had been killed there. Retief and his men were savagely butchered to death. The general opinion as to the reason why they were killed is because for some obscure reason, they withheld some of the cattle recovered from Chief Sekonyela.