Cape Town - The Proteas will go into the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan at Centurion without the services of Vernon Philander.
The 33-year-old has a hairline fracture on his right thumb.
With Lungi Ngidi also ruled out until February next year, the Proteas will have their fast bowling depth seriously tested at Centurion where Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Duanne Olivier will lead the attack.
Keshav Maharaj will operate as the specialist spinner.
"I really don't even want to think about what would happen should there be another injury," Proteas coach Ottis Gibson said last week.
"If you look at where we are, Steyn, Rabada and Olivier become very important to us. We just want to manage them as best we can. We've seen how Dale's been going.
"I don't want to say we've seen a transformation because he's always been a top player, but he's back to full fitness and performing like the player of old. KG (Rabada) as always is very important to us."