Sixth one-day international, Centurion
South Africa 241-7 beat England 240 by three wickets
South Africa win series 4-1
South Africa edged to victory in the final one-day international to lift the series against England 4-1.
They won in Centurion by three wickets as England once again failed to take advantage of a third scintillating century by Kevin Pietersen.
Hampshire batsman Pietersen rescued England from 68-6 at the halfway stage by slamming 116 off 110 balls.
But the total of 240 was not enough as South Africa got home in the 49th over, with Ashwell Prince 62 not out.
England would no doubt be disappointed by their one-day series surrender, but they head home from a tour which started in early December with the Test series in the bag.
Despite losing the toss, Michael Vaughan said he would have chosen to bat in any case.
But he was then out to the first ball of the second over, beaten for pace by a dead straight Makhaya Ntini delivery which flattened his leg and middle stumps.
By then, Marcus Trescothick was also back in the pavilion - his wretched series terminated on the second delivery of the match, as he speared Shaun Pollock to gully.
Geraint Jones battled away for more than an hour, continuing to look ill at ease opening the batting, and it was no surprise when Andre Nel persuaded him to splice a catch to midwicket.
The wickets just continued falling - Andrew Strauss, Vikram Solanki and Paul Collingwood all disappointing.
So when Pietersen and Ashley Giles came together at the start of the 26th over it seemed a total of 100 might be a bridge too far.
Pietersen: A stunning 454 runs in five innings in the series
But Pietersen, who had started watchfully as if to prove that he could also be elevated into the Test team, finally began playing his shots when he realised Giles might be able to provide lasting support.
Six sixes were deposited into the stands on the leg-side and there was a series of booming, well-placed drives on the off-side, too.
Giles reached his best score in one-day cricket before being yorked by Makhaya Ntini for 41 after he and Pietersen had added 104 for the seventh wicket in 18.1 overs.
Another weighty partnership followed as Pietersen and Kabir Ali added 53 off just 39 balls. Pietersen needed just 24 balls to go from 50 to 100.
Finally, Andrew Hall removed Pietersen's off-stump and followed up with two more wickets in the final over of the match as England were bowled out one ball short of their full allocation.
Hall then found himself opening the batting - the third such partner for Graeme Smith.
The experiment succeeded in part as the pair put on 46 for the first wicket before Hall was brilliantly caught by Steve Harmison diving one-handed at fine leg to give Alex Wharf a wicket.
Another big partnership followed between Jacques Kallis and Smith before the home skipper (47) and Gibbs (0) were dismissed off consecutive overs.
Smith was caught at mid-off off Giles before Harmison - only playing because Darren Gough was unwell - trapped GIbbs lbw.
As the weather turned inclement, Kallis holed out for 36 to leave the game in the balance.
But South Africa always held the advantage and the opportunity was nailed home by Mark Boucher and Prince, who celebrated his maiden one-day fifty.
They put on 70 in good time, and though Justin Kemp and Shaun Pollock both fell cheaply, Prince hit the winning runs off the last ball of the penultimate over, bowled by Wharf.
South Africa: G Smith (capt), N Boje, J Kallis, H Gibbs, A Prince, J Kemp, M Boucher (wkt), S Pollock, M Ntini, A Nel, A Hall.
England: M Vaughan (capt), M Trescothick, G Jones (wkt), A Strauss, K Pietersen, I Bell, V Solanki, P Collingwood, A Giles, Kabir Ali, S Harmison, A Wharf.