The South Africans, electing to bat, reached 70-3 in their first innings when bad light stopped play early on the rain-hit opening day at Queen's Park Oval on Thursday.
Only 34 overs were possible in just over two hours of play, as the West Indies Cricket Board's decision to stage a Test in the middle of the Trinidad & Tobago wet season seriously backfired.
South Africa skipper Graeme Smith [ Images ] gave the Proteas a solid base in an opening stand of 55 with Alviro Petersen, when play started four hours and 35 minutes late because of the weather.
But Smith was caught at slip to become the maiden Test scalp for off-spinner Shane Shillingford in the eighth over after tea.
Before the first rain stoppage, Petersen had good fortune on 23, when he played defensively forward, edged Suleiman Benn, and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin [ Images ] missed a chance in the first over after tea.
Fortune continued to favour Petersen after the stoppage, when he survived a leg-before-wicket appeal to Benn, after West Indies referred a "not-out" decision from umpire Steve Davis to video umpire Simon Taufel.
The South Africans then suffered a major blow, when Hashim Amla [ Images ], the most prolific batsman in the preceding limited-overs matches, was caught at slip off Benn for two, and Petersen's luck finally ran out, when he was leg-before-wicket to Shillingford playing across, following a video referral.
But the conditions overhead steadily worsened, and the umpires spared the Proteas further torment from Shillingford and Benn, both of whom gained generous turn from the pitch.
Shillingford ended the day with two wickets for five runs from six overs, and Benn finished with one for 21 from 11 overs.
Earlier, Smith and Petersen gave the South Africans a solid start before tea, when play began four hours and 35 minutes later than scheduled.
South Africa 1st Innings
G Smith c D Bravo b Shillingford 23
A Petersen lbw b Shillingford 31
H Amla c D Bravo b Benn 2
J Kallis batting 6
P Harris batting 0
Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-1, nb-1) 8
Total (3 wkts, 34 overs) 70
Fall of wickets: 1-55, 2-60, 3-68
Bowling: Rampaul 6-2-19-0, Pascal 3-0-7-0, D Bravo 8-4-12-0, Benn 11-4-21-1, Shillingford 6-2-5-2.