Dane Piedt produced the best performance by a debutant South African spinner as the Proteas thumped Zimbabwe by nine wickets to retain their number one status following the one-off contest at the Harare Sports Club.
After bowling Zimbabwe out for 181 in the second innings, the visitors knocked off their target of 41 for the loss of opener Dean Elgar, who was bowled by Tendai Chatara for 21.
Zimbabwe first innings 256
South Africa first innings 397
Zimbabwe second innings 181
South Africa second innings
D Elgar b Chatara 21
A Petersen not out 17
F du Plessis not out 5
Extras (lb 1) 1
Total (1 wicket; 10.4 overs; 44
Fall of wickets 1-39 (Elgar, 9.4 ov)
The 24-year-old Piedt finished with match figures of eight for 152 on a helpful pitch having been drafted into the side for leg-spinner Imran Tahir, beating the previous best debut figures of seven for 189 by Ian Smith against England in 1947.
Fast-bowler Dale Steyn finished with eight for 84 in the match to move level with Ian Botham on 383 careers Test scalps, 13th on the list of most wicket takers.
A South African victory was always likely at the start of the day, but Zimbabwe can take heart from the fight they showed in delaying the Proteas' celebrations until the final hour of day four.
Resuming on 28 for one, they lost only nightwatchman Donald Tiripano (five) before lunch after he had a wild slog at a Piedt delivery and was bowled.
It was the middle session that set up the win for the visitors though as they ripped through the heart of the Zimbabwe batting line-up.
The teams will now contest a three-match one-day series in Bulawayo starting on Sunday, before Australia arrive for a triangular tournament that gets underway on August 25.