Durban - Morne Morkel (4/76) rediscovered the wicket-taking form he showed in India when he claimed four wickets to wrap up the England innings in the first session on day two of the Boxing Day Test on Sunday.
England were dismissed for 303 - Nick Compton top scoring with 85 before he was caught behind off Morkel.
There was some resistance in the form of Jonny Bairstow (41) and Stuart Broad (32*), but the Proteas picked up six wickets in a session that got the Test match going after a stop-start opening day.
Broad and Steven Finn added 36 for the 10th wicket, but Dale Steyn trapped Finn LBW on the stroke of lunch to pick up his fourth wicket in the innings.
South Africa 27/2 after 10 overs
De Villiers 4*
Broad 2/8 in 5 overs