11 – Britain declares war against the Zulus and launches the Anglo-Zulu War after an ultimatum issued on 11 December 1878 is rejected.
22 – The Zulus wipe out British forces in the Battle of Isandlwana.
22-23 – The British prevail against a Zulu attack in the Battle of Rorke's Drift.
7 – The first British troops arrive in Durban from all over the Empire.
12 – A force of 2,000 Zulus attacks a British camp at Ntombi River. Of the 60 men in the camp, only 15 escape.
4 – The Zulus are defeated at Ulundi and the war ends.
28 – The Zulu King Cetshwayo is captured.
1 June – Napoléon Eugène, Prince Imperial is killed in action when ambushed by Zulus during the Anglo-Zulu War.
March – Natal – Pinetown to Botha's Hill, 14 miles 6 chains (22.7 kilometres).
11 August – Cape Western – Grootfontein to Fraserburg Road, 52 miles 41 chains (84.5 kilometres).
26 August – Cape Midland – Mount Stewart to Graaff-Reinet, 72 miles 18 chains (116.2 kilometres).
1 September – Natal – Avoca to Verulam, 12 miles 2 chains (19.4 kilometres).
3 September – Cape Midland – Alicedale to Grahamstown, 34 miles 71 chains (56.1 kilometres).
17 September – Cape Midland – Alicedale to Middleton, 38 miles 3 chains (61.2 kilometres).
3 November – Cape Eastern – Döhne to Cathcart, 42 miles 48 chains (68.6 kilometres).
Two new 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge locomotive types enter service on the Cape Government Railways (CGR):
The first four of fifteen 1st Class 4-4-0 American type passenger locomotives on the Western and Eastern systems.
The first six of ten 1st Class 2-6-0 Mogul type goods locomotives on the Western system.
The Table Bay Harbour Board places its fourth 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) Brunel gauge 0-4-0 well-tank engine in excavation and breakwater construction service.
The Natal Government Railways places seven 2-6-0T locomotives in service, later to be modified to a 4-6-0T wheel arrangement and designated Class G.
The Natal Harbours Department in Durban places a single 0-6-0 saddle-tank locomotive in service, named John Milne.
1879 in South Africa Wikipedia