South Africa has fallen into recession for the first time in eight years after economic growth shrank by 0.7% between January and March.
The downturn, due to weak manufacturing and trade, follows a 0.3% fall in GDP in the final quarter last year.
It is the first time that economic has slowed for two consecutive quarters – the technical definition of a recession – since 2009.
The value of the rand fell by 1% on the currency markets.
Analysts had expected GDP to grow by 0.9% during the first quarter. However, Joe de Beer, deputy director general of Statistics South Africa, said: “We can now pronounce that the economy is in recession.”