Australia are on top at lunch on day one of the third Test after South Africa slumped to 3-63 courtesy of two late Mitchell Starc wickets.
After the tourists won the toss and elected to bat, Alviro Petersen (30) and Graeme Smith (16) blunted the early Australian onslaught before Smith departed in the 12th over.
Smith fell to Shane Watson when he edged an angled delivery that found Michael Clarke at first slip, who took a sharp low catch.
Starc removed Petersen in the 23rd over with an in-swinging yorker that dismantled the opener's stumps and then knocked over Jacques Kallis just seven deliveries into his innings.
Starc softened up Kallis with a couple of short balls and then delivered the in-swinging full ball.
The left-armer, who was 12th man for the first two Tests, finished up with figures 2-27 off his eight overs.
Starc looked the most likely of the Australian bowlers to strike and thought he had Petersen for four in the fifth over when he hit him on the front pad.
Umpire Richard Kettleborough agreed with the appeal, but Petersen's challenge had the decision overturned when the review showed the ball missing the stumps and going down the leg side.
Amla (11 not out) survived the Starc carnage at the non-strikers' end but had a couple of early scares when he almost played on a John Hastings delivery.
Mitchell Johnson beat Amla's outside edge with consecutive deliveries in the 15th over.
Johnson almost had Smith with his third delivery when a short ball rose steeply, caught him on the gloves, ballooned off and fell just short of Mike Hussey in the gully.
The Australian bowlers' line was too straight early as both Smith and Petersen picked them off with relative ease.
Debutant John Hastings (0-17) opened from the Prindiville Stand end and was unable to claim his first Test wicket.
Johnson bowled economically for figures of 0-10 off five overs.