South Africa dominated the first day of the third Test at Newlands Thursday, bowling out Australia for just 209 before reaching 57 for no wicket at the close.
Left-arm spinner Paul Harris made crucial breakthroughs for South Africa, ending the two most productive partnerships of the innings when he dismissed Phil Hughes and Simon Katich, and then dismissing the dangerous Brad Haddin.
Harris took three for 34, while fast bowler Dale Steyn took four for 56.
Hughes and Katich put on 58 for the first wicket after Australian captain Ricky Ponting won his sixth consecutive toss in Tests between the two countries before Hughes missed a sweep against Harris and was leg before wicket.
It was the start of an Australian collapse in which four wickets fell for 23 runs.
Katich, who made top score of 55, revived the Australian innings in partnership with Haddin, putting on 71 for the fifth wicket.
But Katich played a rash stroke shortly before tea when he top-edged a sweep against left-arm spinner Paul Harris and was caught by debutant Imraan Khan at midwicket after batting for 229 minutes and facing 160 balls. He hit seven fours.
Khan earlier dropped a head-high chance at backward point when Katich, on nine, sliced a drive against Makhaya Ntini.
Katich also survived two referrals by the South Africans, both for leg before wicket appeals by Ntini. It meant South Africa had used up their referrals for the innings.
South Africa have had only two successful referrals out of 13 during the series.
Harris struck another key blow when he trapped Haddin leg before for 42 four balls after tea.
Steyn took two wickets in the first five overs after lunch, bowling Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke, and finished off the tail by dismissing Mitchell Johnson and new cap Bryce McGain in the space of four balls.
Johnson made an aggressive 35 and survived a dropped catch by Khan at deep midwicket off Harris when he had 30.
With Australia having clinched the series by winning the first two Tests, it was a much-improved performance by the South African bowlers.
New cap Albie Morkel, brother of the dropped Morne, picked up the key wicket of Ponting, having the Australian captain caught behind for a duck.
South Africa's new opening pair of Ashwell Prince and Khan had no real problems on a good batting pitch, putting on 57 runs in even time.
Prince was in particularly good form, striking an unbeaten 37 off 36 balls with five fours. He also hit a six over long-on off the second ball bowled in Test cricket by leg-spinner McGain.
McGain played in place of Marcus North, who was in hospital with food poisoning.