1887 in South Africa
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- Governor of the Cape of Good Hope and High Commissioner for Southern Africa: Hercules Robinson.
- Governor of the Colony of Natal: Henry Ernest Gascoyne Bulwer.
- State President of the Orange Free State: Jan Brand.
- State President of the South African Republic: Paul Kruger.
- Prime Minister of the Cape of Good Hope: John Gordon Sprigg.
- 21 – The Nederlandsche-Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschappij (NZASM) is floated.
- 21 – Zululand becomes a British colony.
- Unknown date
- The town of Boksburg is laid out to serve the surrounding gold mines.
- The Stellenbosch Gymnasium, later to become the Stellenbosch University, changes its name to Victoria College, after Queen Victoria.
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- 29 May – Xhosa chief Sandile is killed in Denge Forest in a skirmish with the Fingos under the command of Captain J. Lonsdale.
Railway lines opened
- The Lourenco Marques, Delagoa Bay and East Africa Railway in Mozambique places two 4-6-0 tank locomotives in service, one of which will become the Portuguese Tank on the Pretoria-Pietersburg Railway in 1897.
- The South African Railways - Historical Survey. Editor George Hart, Publisher Bill Hart, Sponsored by Dorbyl Ltd., Published c. 1978, p. 19.
- 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
- Holland, D.F. (1971). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways. 1: 1859–1910 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 118–119. ISBN 978-0-7153-5382-0.