2004 in South Africa
- 1 – Asher Karni, an Israeli and South African businessman from Sea Point who is alleged to have supplied nuclear technology to Pakistan, is arrested at Denver International Airport, Colorado.
- 7 – 64 suspected mercenaries are arrested at Harare, Zimbabwe. 20 of them are South African including their leader, Simon Mann, a former British Army officer and security expert.
- Building of the new Giriyondo Border Post between South Africa and Mozambique in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park begins.
- 14 – The third democratic elections are held and won by the African National Congress.
- 16 – A set of shell beads, estimated to be 75,000 years old, is discovered at the excavations at Blombos cave near Stilbaai in the Western Cape.
- Nelson Mandela announces he is "retiring from retirement".
- 1 – A South African Air Force Oryx helicopter crash lands near the Johannesburg International Airport, with no fatalities.
- 6 – A South African Air Force SE-316B Alouette III helicopter crash lands at Grahamstown, with no fatalities.
- Avian influenza is diagnosed in ostriches in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
- 23 – The SAS Mendi (F148), a Valour class frigate, and the HMS Nottingham (D91), a Type 42 destroyer, meet at the site where the World War I troopship SS Mendi sank. Wreaths are laid in remembrance to those who died in service of their country.
- 25 – Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is arrested at his home in Cape Town for his alleged involvement in the Equatorial Guinea coup plot.
- 27 – Simon Mann, former British Army officer, security expert and mercenary, is found guilty of attempting to buy arms for the alleged Equatorial Guinea coup plot and is sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, while the 66 co-accused are acquitted.
- 1 – Six people are killed and more than 100 are injured in a gas explosion in the Sasol synthetic fuel plant in Secunda.
- 9 – The first locally assembled Agusta A109 light utility helicopter makes its first flight at Denel's Kempton Park facilities.
- 15 – South Africa announces that it will buy the Airbus A400M transport aircraft.
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- 13 March – Dullah Omar, lawyer and politician. (b. 1934)
- 9 May – Brenda Fassie, singer. (b. 1964)
- 27 May – Nimrod Sejake, activist. (b. 1920)
- 7 September – Beyers Naudé, cleric, theologian and activist. (b. 1915)
- 12 September – Rachel Simons, communist trade unionist. (b. 1914)
- 12 December – Phaswane Mpe, poet and novelist. (b. 1970)
- 25 December – Ian Syster, long-distance runner. (b. 1976)
- The team of Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns, Darian Townsend and Ryk Neethling wins the gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, simultaneously breaking the world record in the 4x100 freestyle relay. Shoeman, Ferns and Neethling trained at the University of Arizona.