Sure, we’ve been through heartache with these guys before - each previous World Cup in fact.
We have been there when they choke and leave us wondering just how they could let victory and glory slip away from them.
And when we have teams like Bafana Bafana, the Stormers and the Springboks who we can expect to have us feel constantly humiliated, the Proteas always give us some hope.
The Proteas have always been our tragic heroes, revered by opposition fans and feared by opponents.
But they have always lacked that killer instinct on the biggest stage.
That was until this past week.
Losses to England, Bangladesh and India leave SA with a worse record at this competition than Afghanistan, thanks to the possibility that the Afghans could still win their third match.
Yes, losing is an inevitability in sport and you have to taste the bitterness of defeat some time, but for a team with a tradition of going out in spectacular meltdown, this long slow death is shocking.
Now there is no reason why this team can’t pick themselves up off the canvass, because while they are down, they are not out.
With six games to play, the Proteas can only get better.
Or is that also just wishful thinking?
Look at the way lost these games: in the opening two matches were had hoped our bowling attack would blast out the English and the Tigers up front.
But with Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Dale Steyn all fighting to be at 100 percent fit ahead of the tournament, Rabada is the last man standing as his partners broke down.
On jack-in-the-box tracks begging for a fast bowler to just hit the deck with some purpose, it would have some sight to see the Proteas pacemen in full flight.
Instead it was England’s Jofra Archer and Jasprit Bumrah of India harassing our batsmen.
Now before I get on to the batsmen, were our manne holding back for fear of injury?
Rabada and Ngidi were unrecognisable against the first two matches, leading an attack that twice conceded 300-plus runs.
In the middle overs, our spinners are not doing their job.
Imran Tahir was ineffective against India.
And poor Tabraiz Shamsi.
During the match, former India captain Sourav Ganguly was stunned by Shamsi’s action.
He basically asked: “Waar het jy geleer boul?”
The Proteas spinner was slammed for telegraphing for his balls and told that his bowling leaves no mystery for batsmen.
It was hard to take.
With Steyn now finally ruled out and Beuran Hendricks replacing him in England, you hope that there is a new energy to boost coach Ottis Gibson’s bowling game plan.
On to the batsman now and we are lacking a man who can go on score big hundreds needed to build our innings around.
There is a mystery around Aiden Markram.
After a scant summer, the runs came in a flood for him in England ahead of the World Cup.
So why is he not a nailed-on starter in top order with his ease in English conditions. Maybe some faith in the man from the selectors will see him pile on the runs.
With six games still to play, the possibility remains that South Africa can find their form and battle their way into the semifinals.
It’s a long shot, but while the chance is there, they have to cling to it and fight for it.
It’s the only way the Proteas will still have that reputation of being nearly men instead of these new useless men.