Veteran striker Surprise Moriri punished sloppy defending off a cross to drive a low shot into the corner of the net on 51 minutes and set up Bafana Bafana (The Boys) for a first success in four international outings.
Siyabonga Nomvete added a second five mintues from full-time in this German city as he ran on to a pass from fellow substitute Andile Jali and slammed the ball wide of goalkeeper Dwayne Kerr into the net.
Jamaica, last-minute replacements for China, faded after failing to convert a few first-half chances in a game between teams relying almost exclusively on home-based players.
South Africa made one change from the team held 0-0 by fellow qualifiers Korea DPR in Frankfurt last week with Siboniso Gaxa replacing Thabo Nthethe at rightback. Jamaica arrived in Germany via the United States just 10 hours before the kick-off with a squad of local players and San Jose Earthquakes striker Ryan Johnson.
With three previous matches between the countries drawn and delivering only two goals, it was no surprise that the first half ended goalless before a few hundred spectators. South Africa had scored just five goals in six matches since Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreirra returned last November for a second spell in charge.
They could have added to that total less than two minutes into the match as a glancing Moriri header off a Siphiwe Tshabalala free kick forced Kerr into an acrobatic parry at the expense of a corner. But if the largely South Africa-supporting crowd thought this was the start of a siege on the Jamaican goalmouth they were sadly mistaken with the Reggae Boyz coming close to scoring twice by the half-hour mark.
Openings at the back
Sleepy South Africa failed to pick up Dicoy Williams off a Xavian Virgo free kick and his near-post header beat goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and flew just over the bar. And when the Caribbean team launched a lightning counter-attack in perfect conditions, Navion Boyd was staring at an unguarded route toward goal only to be let down by a poor first touch.
South Africa finished the opening half with a flourish and Kerr did well to hold a volley from striker Katlego Mphela, seeking to improve his one-goal input from the six matches since Parreira replaced compatriot Joel Santana.
The deadlock was finally broken six minutes into the second half in comical fashion as two defenders failed to cut off a cross that appeared to pose no threat and Moriri had time and space to beat Kerr with a low shot.
Moriri made way soon after for Nomvete, a 32-year-old from the Soweto-based Moroka Swallows club recalled for the Germany camp three years after last appearing in Bafana Bafana colours. And Nomvete repaid the faith of Parreira and the South African media who campaigned hard for his inclusion in the squad when he put the result beyond doubt.