Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark took 5-55 on debut as South Africa slumped to 205 all out on the opening day of the first of three tests on Thursday.
Australia replied with 63 for one at stumps. Matthew Hayden was undefeated on 22, and captain Ricky Ponting on 20.
The man out was Justin Langer, adjudged lbw to Andre Nel for 16 on a ball that looked as if it would travel over the top of the stumps, but he had been given not out when he had appeared to glove a Makhaya Ntini delivery down the legside off the second ball of the innings.
South Africa owed its total to Ntini and Nel, as the fast-bowling pair put on 32 for the last wicket - the highest partnership of the innings.
Nel was the last man out for 18, giving Brett Lee his third wicket and leaving Ntini undefeated on 17.
South Africa reached 155 for eight at tea, having spent the first two sessions on the back foot. The hosts lost all-rounder Andrew Hall to a fine catch by Hayden in the gully after the batsman had scored 24 and looked the most comfortable against the bowling attack
Clark, 31, received his cap from former fast-bowling great Merv Hughes as he took to the field, but had to wait until the second change for a chance with the ball.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith won the toss and elected to bat at the Newlands Stadium, and his players made a slow, unsteady start.
A.B. de Villiers was the first to go, bowled by Michael Kasprowicz for eight.
Herschelle Gibbs did a small repair job with Smith, until the skipper became Clark's first victim, caught behind for 19 as he fished outside the off stump.
Two overs later, Clark struck again, removing South Africa's best batsman, Jacques Kallis, caught at gully by Hayden for six.
Clark then produced a beautiful off-cutter to go past the edge of Gibbs' bat and crash into his off stump, removing him for 18.
His fourth wicket came when he had Mark Boucher well caught by Adam Gilchrist for 16, and his fifth when he trapped Nicky Boje lbw for 31 - South Africa's highest score.
Lee came back after a wicketless opening spell to remove Hall after he had Ashwell Prince caught - also at gully by Hayden - for a painstaking 17 off 67 balls in 105 minutes.Reuse content