20 – £50,000 worth of diamonds are reported stolen from Cape Town's post office.
23 – Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Emperor Napoleon III of France, arrives in Durban to visit the grave of her son, Napoléon Eugène, Prince Imperial, who was killed in Zululand during the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879.
15 – The Natal South Coast railway line from Durban is opened to traffic to Isipingo.
British Governor Bartle Frere is recalled to London to face charges of misconduct.
Cape Prime Minister Gordon Sprigg's attempt at disarming the Basotho ignites the Basuto Gun War.
18 – Griqualand West is annexed to the Cape Colony.
16 – Britain declares war against the South African Republic and starts the first Boer War.
Britain forms the first Legislative Council in the Transvaal.
The Afrikander Bond is established.
The Transvaal declares itself the South African Republic again.
The John N Gamewell, a small American brigantine, sinks off the west coast of the Cape Colony near Port Elizabeth.
The Muizenberg Flyer, a faster suburban passenger train service, is introduced in Cape Town.
Cecilia Makiwane, first black woman to become a professional nurse in South Africa.
Railway lines opened
1 February – Natal – Rossburgh to Isipingo, 6 miles 27 chains (10.2 kilometres).
5 February – Cape Western – Fraserburg Road to Beaufort West, 48 miles 45 chains (78.2 kilometres).
2 March – Cape Midland – Middleton to Cookhouse, 17 miles (27.4 kilometres).
5 May – Cape Eastern – Cathcart to Queenstown, 45 miles 2 chains (72.5 kilometres).
1 December – Natal – Botha's Hill to Pietermaritzburg, 41 miles 9 chains (66.2 kilometres).
The Cape Government Railways places the first nine of eighteen 4th Class 4-6-0 tank-and-tender locomotives in mainline service on its Midland System working out of Port Elizabeth and Eastern System working out of East London.
The Natal Government Railways places a Class K 0-6-0 saddle-tank locomotive in service.