Almost all of the 24,000 fans crammed into the ground were wearing Pakistan colours but having watched their heroes restrict the Proteas to 234 for nine, they were silenced by a flat batting display that saw them dismissed for 167.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was largely responsible for the go-slow, top-scoring with 55 but never showing the urgency needed to make the target viable. Both sides lost their Group B opener, meaning Pakistan are now almost certainly heading home, while South Africa live to fight another day.
The victors have Hashim Amla's measured 81 to thank for their total, while Ryan McLaren (four for 19) and debutant Chris Morris excelled in place of injured pair Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn.
Morris made a striking impression, toppling Imran Farhat's off stump with his fifth ball in ODI cricket.
The method was simple - fast, full and straightening - and the execution perfect.
Neither Morris nor Lonwabo Tsotsobe gave anything loose in their opening bursts and Mohammed Hafeez lost patience in the eighth over, taking on a Morris bouncer and top-edging to square leg.
After 10 overs, Pakistan had just 18 on the board.
McLaren turned in back-to-back maidens as Shoaib Malik slowed the scoring yet further and it was almost a relief when he played on to JP Duminy for eight.
Misbah and the resolute Nasir Jamshed gently picked things up to reach 75 by the mid-point of the innings, but the required rate was still more than six an over.
Jamshed's watch ended when Tsotsobe gathered a low return catch to send him back for 42 in 75 balls, by which point even Misbah seemed to have given in.
His running between the wickets became increasingly languid and little or no effort was made to threaten the boundaries.
His fifth-wicket stand with Umar Amin yielded 43 in 11 overs and had just started to show signs of life when McLaren struck twice in an over.
Amin was his first victim, skying a catch to cover, and Kamran Akmal was close behind - superbly caught for nought by Faf du Plessis at backward point.
Misbah gave the Pakistan fans one straight six to cheer before a soft dismissal at the hands of Tsotsobe, and McLaren took the final two wickets with minimal fuss.
South Africa's innings was a lopsided affair but in hindsight proved more than enough.
Once Amin put down a sharp chance at point to reprieve Amla on seven, the opener looked intent on building a sizeable innings.
His timing was a touch off but when he did find the middle of the bat the ball raced to the ropes.
Colin Ingram (20) shared in an opening stand of 53 before being pinned lbw sweeping Hafeez.
Du Plessis was next in and played the support role in another decent partnership with Amla, this one worth 69 before the former miscued a Mohammad Irfan bouncer to cover.
The arrival of De Villiers threatened to up the ante and he waited just seven balls before shovelling Malik into the on-side for the first six of the day.
He quickly took the batting powerplay but the tactic backfired, South Africa managing only 19 runs in five overs and losing the key wicket of Amla.
His dismissal, a loopy reverse sweep straight into the hands of short third man, was at odds with his otherwise careful 97-ball stay.
At 145 for three and with 18.2 overs to go, he had primed his side for a big finish that never materialised.
Run outs - and Misbah - had plenty to do with that.
Misbah's fielding accounted for both De Villiers (31) and Duminy (24), both slipping in pursuit of ambitious singles.
The Pakistan captain then produced a superb catch to see off the dangerous David Miller for 19.
All-rounder McLaren was leg before to Malik before Pakistan produced two more direct hits in the final over to run out Morris and Aaron Phangiso.
By that stage, South Africa had already gone far beyond Pakistan's range.