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The unique story of Tshiheni’s biking hero

News - Date: 13 April 2019

Written by: Phathutshedzo Luvhengo / Viewed: 2019


If you mention the name Alfred “King Donut” Matamela in motoring circles, you will immediately cause heads to turn. He is one of the most notable bikers in South Africa, but he is also very proud of his origins which go back to the small Tshiheni village in Vhembe where he herded cattle.

As he prepares for this year’s South Coast Bike Fest in KwaZulu-Natal, Matamela recalls how his journey started when he initially moved to Johannesburg, looking for opportunities, in 1983. He settled in Soweto where he secured his first job and worked as a messenger delivering parcels using a Skoota bike.

For 15 years he did the same job, working for several entities, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and Liberty Life. Only when he became a provident fund administrator did he become involved in a part-time school, Soweto Motorbike School, offering lessons for prospective bikers and taking a motorcycle to townships.

Due to his busy schedule, he had to juggle his full-time job and the side hustle. “My boss allowed me to work in the morning and during the afternoons I would be at the school, offering lessons,” he said.

The school grew and he became one of the best instructors in the country and well known in Gauteng Province. “Today I have projects where I train traffic cops throughout the entire Gauteng Province,” he said. He has offered his lessons in other provinces as well, including KZN, North West and Mpumalanga.

The Yamaha South Africa brand ambassador, whose father passed away when he was only six years old, said the success of the school prompted him to join the Soweto Eagles Biker Club where he learnt spinning and honed his cycling skills.

In 2009, he started his own Club, Soweto Pathfinder, taking the motorcycling culture to a township. A lot of the people he trained joined the club and he later became famous in biking circles. His skills also caught the attention of many people and he started to receive invitations to perform at various big events. 

He recalls that one of his career highlights the past year was when he saw two of his learners escorting President Cyril Ramaphosa during the opening of Parliament.

This year he will put on a must-see performance, burning rubber in his signature smoking style on the KZN south coast at the South Coast Bike Fest for a second consecutive year.

“Last year, I rode the Yamaha MT10, and this year spectators will get to watch me on the incredible Yamaha R1,” said King Donut, explaining that this is the bike ridden by Yamaha Moto GP racer Maverick Vinales.

“I enjoy participating in the annual South Coast Bike Fest™ because it’s such a great place to watch upcoming talent. It’s a festival I look forward to every year.”

South Africa’s biggest motorcycle and music festival - presented by Ugu South Coast Tourism - is expected to offer some crazy stunts on high-powered machines, performed by the best thrill-seeking riders from 26 to 28 April.

“The tyres that I will be using this year are rare to find in South Africa. While they are spinning, they produce red and blue flames,” he said.

Matamela credits his success to his three teachers from Tshiheni Primary School and Khakhu Secondary school who helped to instil discipline in him. “Growing up wasn’t easy, but perseverance brings happiness,” he said.



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Alfred "King Donut" says perseverance brings happiness and success in life. Photo supplied. 



Phathutshedzo Luvhengo


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