England claimed six wickets for just 38 runs on day five of the first Test against South Africa to seal an emphatic 241-run win in Durban.
South Africa resumed on 136-4 in search of a distant 416 but lost four wickets for seven runs in the first nine overs.
Moeen Ali removed dangerman AB de Villiers with the third ball and Steven Finn finished with 4-42 as the hosts were all out before lunch for 174.
The second of the four-match series begins in Cape Town on Saturday.
It was only England's second Test victory away from home since 2012 and their largest in terms of runs against South Africa since the Proteas were readmitted to international cricket in 1991.
In contrast it was a fourth defeat in the past five Tests for South Africa, whose position at the top of the Test rankings is under increasing threat from India.
The South Africans have gone seven matches without a Test victory, which equals their longest run without a win since their readmission.
In the 138-year history of Test cricket, only three teams have avoided defeat from being four wickets down on the final day.
And it soon became apparent South Africa would not alter that statistic when star batsman De Villiers missed a turning off-break from Moeen and was given out lbw and upheld on review.
South Africa's struggles
Victory against West Indies in Cape Town at the beginning of 2015 was South Africa's only Test success of the year, and they lost four and drew three of their other matches.
The Proteas scored 421 against the Windies in Cape Town in January but did not reach 250 again in 10 completed Test innings in 2015.
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott told BBC Test Match Special: "I thought it would be close this series. South Africa look as if they're past their best, with injuries not helping. They dropped three catches in no time when they were under pressure.
"They've got real problems. I don't know if the technique of the South Africa batsmen is good enough to stay in against good bowling."
|South Africa's Test results in 2015
|2-6 January, Cape Town
||Third Test v West Indies
||SA won by eight wickets
|21-25 July, Chittagong
||First Test v Bangladesh
|30 July-3 August, Dhaka
||Second Test v Bangladesh
|5-7 November, Mohali
||First Test v India
||India won by 108 runs
|14-18 November, Bangalore
||Second Test v India
|25-27 November, Nagpur
||Third Test v India
||India won by 124 runs
|3-7 December, Delhi
||Fourth Test v India
||India won by 337 runs
|26-30 December, Durban
||First Test v England
||England won by 241 runs
||South Africa 303/10 (100.1)
||England 326/10 (102.1)