Set to chase 400, England could only raise 170 before bundling out in 22 overs and thus succumbed to one of the biggest defeats in the history of the World Cups.
The defending champions, after having a dismal start, lost wickets at an alarming rate and were reduced to 84/7 in 15.1 overs.
England further slipped to 100/8 in the next over when bowling all-rounder David Willey fell for a run-a-ball 12.
When it seemed all over for England, their tailenders Mark Wood and Gut Atkinson retaliated with a sensational 70-run partnership before Keshav Maharaj castled the latter to register South Africa’s dominating victory.
Atkinson scored 35 in 21 deliveries with the help of seven boundaries while Mark Wood remained unbeaten with a quickfire 43. His 17-ball knock featured two boundaries and five sixes.
Put into bat first, the South African batters made England Jos Buttler pay as they registered a daunting total on the board with Heinrich Klaasen leading the charge courtesy of a quickfire century at the backend.
The Proteas, however, had a contrasting start as their in-form Quinton de Kock (4) fell on the second delivery of the innings.
Opening batter Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen both scored half-centuries after an early blow as they racked up 121 runs at a brisk pace for the second wicket.
The duo put South Africa in command before both fell victim to Adil Rashid in quick succession as the Proteas slipped to 164/2 in 25.2 overs.
Rassie van der Dussen scored 60 in 61 deliveries, hitting eight boundaries while Hendricks fell shy of his second ODI century, scoring a 75-ball 85, laced up with nine boundaries and three sixes.
Coming out to bat at number five, Heinrich Klaasen joined skipper Aiden Markram and stitched an important 69-run partnership before the latter fell.
South Africa then sustained another blow to their innings as David Miller (5) fell cheaply, causing the side to slip to 243/5 in 36.3 overs.
Following the slump, Heinrich Klaasen launched a counterattack on the English bowlers with a quickfire century and was brilliantly supported by Marco Jansen.
The pair went hard at the bowlers to register a match-defining 151-run partnership off just 76 deliveries before Klaasen finally perished in the final over.
Heinrich Klaasen top-scored with a berserk 109 in 67 balls, smashing 12 boundaries and four sixes.
Meanwhile, Jansen carried his bat all the way through to score an unbeaten 75, conceding just 42 deliveries and smashed three boundaries and six sixes.
Reece Topley picked up three wickets for England while Gut Atkinson and Adil Rashid bagged two each.