1889 in South Africa
- Governor of the Cape of Good Hope and High Commissioner for Southern Africa: Hercules Robinson then Henry Brougham Loch.
- Governor of the Colony of Natal:
- State President of the Orange Free State: Pieter Jeremias Blignaut (until 10 January), Francis William Reitz (starting 10 January).
- State President of the South African Republic: Paul Kruger.
- Prime Minister of the Cape of Good Hope: John Gordon Sprigg.
- 13 – The Potchefstroom treaty is signed by Paul Kruger and F.W. Reitz, the respective Presidents of the South African Republic (ZAR) and the Orange Free State. The treaty binds each state to assist the other whenever either is unjustly attacked.
- Unknown date
- In Transvaal a national rugby team is formed.
- 16 March – Reggie Walker, 1908 Olympic champion in the 100 metres. (d. 1951)
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Railway lines opened
- 23 April – Namaqualand – Braakpits Junction to Flat Mine, Concordia, 9 miles (14.5 kilometres).
- 4 September – Natal – Ladysmith to Glencoe Junction, 41 miles 5 chains (66.1 kilometres).
- 21 October – Cape Western – Eerste River to Somerset West, 8 miles 79 chains (14.5 kilometres).
The Cape Government Railways places twenty-four 3rd Class 4-4-0 American type tender locomotives in passenger service on the Cape Western System, the first stock locomotives to be built in quantity to detailed designs prepared in the Cape Colony.
Three locomotive types enter service on the newly established Nederlandsche-Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorwegmaatschappij:
- The first of three 10 Tonner tramway locomotives for use on its first railway line which is being constructed from Johannesburg to Boksburg.
- One 13 Tonner locomotive for use on this line which would become known as the Randtram line.
- Five 14 Tonner locomotives for use on the Randtram line.
- Palmer, Alan; Veronica (1992). The Chronology of British History. London: Century Ltd. pp. 315–316. ISBN 0-7126-5616-2.
- Statement Showing, in Chronological Order, the Date of Opening and the Mileage of Each Section of Railway, Statement No. 19, p. 182, ref. no. 200954-13
- Bagshawe, Peter (2012). Locomotives of the Namaqualand Railway and Copper Mines (1st ed.). Stenvalls. ISBN 978-91-7266-179-0.
- Report for year ending 31 December 1909, Cape Government Railways, Section VIII - Dates of Opening and the Length of the different Sections in the Cape Colony, from the Year 1873 to 31st December, 1909.
- Holland, D.F. (1971). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways. 1: 1859–1910 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 37–39, 109–112. ISBN 978-0-7153-5382-0.
- Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1944). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter IV - The N.Z.A.S.M.. South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, October 1944. pp. 761-764.