Aim: To provide an overview of the provision of trauma care in South Africa, a middle income country emerging into a democratic state.
Methods: Literature review.
Conclusions: South Africa is gripped by an almost hidden epidemic of intentional and non-intentional injury, largely driven by alcohol and substance abuse, against a background of poverty and rapid urbanisation. Gross inequities exist in the provision of trauma care. Access to pre-hospital care and overloading of tertiary facilities are the major inefficiencies to be addressed. The burden of disease due to trauma presents unique opportunities for reconstruction and clinical research.