1972 in South Africa
- State President: Jim Fouché.
- Prime Minister: John Vorster.
- Chief Justice: Newton Ogilvie Thompson.
- 3 – Abram Onkgopotse Tiro is expelled from the University of the North and students protest the expulsion.
- 4 – South Africa and Lesotho decide to establish reciprocal consular representation.
- Unknown date
- A South African Special Forces team carry out a submarine-borne raid on the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam using the SAS Emily Hobhouse, a Daphne class submarine.
- The South African Police deploys to South West Africa.
- Conscription for all white males is extended from 9 to 12 months, followed by a 19-day annual call-up for five years.
- Operation Plathond, a joint South African Defence Force and South African Bureau of State Security operation, is launched to train dissident Zambians in the Caprivi Strip, South West Africa.
- 2 February – Hendrick Ramaala, long-distance runner.
- 12 March – Arno Carstens, singer-songwriter, lead singer of Springbok Nude Girls.
- 2 June – Irene van Dyk, South African and New Zealand netball player.
- 25 August – Elmarie Gerryts, pole vaulter.
- 8 September – Os du Randt, Springbok rugby player.
- 14 May – Lawrence G. Green, journalist and author. (b. 1900)
- 11 August – Max Theiler, South African-American virologist and physician and Nobel Prize laureate. (b. 1899)
- In March the South African Railways places the first of seventy Class 35-000 General Electric type U15C diesel-electric locomotives in branchline service.
- Archontology.org: A Guide for Study of Historical Offices: South Africa: Heads of State: 1961-1994 (Accessed on 14 April 2017)
- South African Railways Index and Diagrams Electric and Diesel Locomotives, 610 mm and 1065 mm Gauges, Ref LXD 14/1/100/20, 28 January 1975, as amended
- Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 141–142. ISBN 0869772112.