With their fragile top order swept aside on the previous afternoon, the West Indies' position was hopeless as they resumed at 93 for 6 after Hansie Cronje's second declaration left them an unrealistic 421 to win.
For a change, the lower order did not offer its usual meek surrender. With the left-handed wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs weighing in with a solid, unbeaten 69, the last four wickets raised 178 from the day's 51.4 overs before man of the match Jacques Kallis completed South Africa's triumph with the second new ball and his fifth wicket to add to his scores of 110 and 88 not out. It elevated him into a small band with eight others who have had such a profound all-round influence on a Test match.
"It was nice for us to do some clapping today," the West Indies captain, Brian Lara, himself out in the last over the previous day, acknowledged. "The lower order showed that the South African attack can be dealt with if we do it in a proper manner."
The overdue West Indian fight provided unexpected entertainment for a remarkable crowd of 7,200 which, with entrance reduced to R5 (55p), turned out for what appeared likely to be less than an hour's cricket.
South Africa were clearly handicapped by the strained hamstring that prevented Allan Donald from bowling and by a couple of dropped catches to add to the four in the first innings. For the first time in the series, their fielding was not exceptional and Jacobs and the fast-bowling trio of Nixon McLean, Curtly Ambrose and Merv Dillon prospered.
Jacobs, appearing in his debut series at the age of 31, has been the outstanding exception to the overall West Indian mediocrity. He has taken several breathtaking catches in the four Tests thus far and his batting has been solid and uncomplicated. Dropped from a difficult catch in the gully in the day's first over before he had scored, he remained to the end, undefeated after three and a quarter hours, his 10 boundaries evidence of his prompt dispatch of the bad ball.
After Ottis Gibson was run out by Jonty Rhodes for 13, Jacobs added 65 with McLean, 34 with Curtly Ambrose and 64 for the last wicket with Dillon.
McLean, also left-handed, belted three big sixes in his 39, the third into the adjoining Newlands railway station at midwicket, Ambrose made 19 off 34 balls and Dillon's five boundaries in 36 were executed with a bent knee and a flourishing straight bat as Everton Weekes used to do it.
It was always going to be in vain but at least it lifted the spirits of the West Indies who now face their first 5-0 loss ever with the final Test starting at Centurion Park outside Pretoria on 15 January.
The captain, Hansie Cronje, said the prospect of a series whitewash was not a special consideration for him.
"We have been motivated throughout," he said. "I don't think the fact that we can make it 5-0 will add anything to that. We want to win every Test match we play, whatever the state of the series. But it might just add a little bit more spark to them."
Although the series has been decided, the South African selectors once again resisted mounting pressure from the Sports Minister Steve Tshwete to choose more non-white players in the team. They announced the same squad of 12 in which opener Herschelle Gibbs and left-arm spinner Paul Adams, both mixed race "coloured" under the old apartheid classification, are the only non-whites.
Fifth day; South Africa won toss
SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings 406-8 dec (D J Cullinan 168, J H Kallis 110).
WEST INDIES - First Innings 212 (C L Hooper 86).
SOUTH AFRICA - Second Innings 226-7 dec (J H Kallis 88no, W J Cronje 54).
WEST INDIES - Second Innings
R D Jacobs not out 69
O D Gibson run out 13
N A M McLean c Adams b Kallis 39
C E L Ambrose c Kirsten b Adams 19
M Dillon c Cronje b Kallis 36
Extras (lb2 nb12) 14
Fall: 1-2 2-7 3-15 4-47 5-87 6-87 7-108 8-173 9-207.
Bowling: Pollock 25-3-49-2 (12nb); Kallis 27.4-4-90-5; Cronje 1-1-0-0; Terbrugge 11-4-40-0; Adams 23-5-80-2; Cullinan 4-1-10-0.Reuse content