South Africa midfielder Hlompho Kekana scored a remarkable goal from inside his own half before Cameroon battled back to earn a 2-2 draw in Limbe and further damage their visitors' Africa Cup of Nations qualifying hopes.
Shakes Mashaba's side headed to Limbe without a win in their opening two Group M matches and an opener from Tokelo Rantie was cancelled out by Cameroon forward Sebastien Siani on the stroke of half-time.
But Mamelodi Sundowns player Kekana then took centre stage with a sensational 49th-minute strike that is set to define his career.
Nicolas Nkoulou nodded home to earn a point for new boss Hugo Broos in his first match, meaning Cameroon are a point ahead of Mauritania and five better off than South Africa ahead of Tuesday's return in Durban.
South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was grateful to see the loose ball scrambled clear when he spilt an early shot from Christian Bekamenga, and his side led in the 15th minute.
AFC Bournemouth striker Rantie darted in behind a sluggish Cameroon backline and coolly rounded Guy N'dy Assembe to score.
Khune made a stunning reaction save when Edgar Salli crashed a volley towards the top corner from a 38th-minute corner, while Rantie's earlier composure deserted him when he scuffed a shot against Assembe's boot on the end of a one-two from Mandla Masango.
Siani crashed home a fine effort from outside the area to haul Cameroon level but Kekana would relegate this to a footnote.
Collecting possession towards the right flank, around 60 yards from goal, the 30-year-old audaciously took aim with Bekamenga off his line and the ball sailed unerringly into the centre of the goal.
Cameroon, perhaps understandably, struggled to regain their poise but equalised for a second time when Marseille defender Nkoulou converted a 66th-minute set-piece.
South Africa defender Thulani Hlatshwayo hacked off his own goal line in stoppage time before Thulani Serero had strong penalty claims rejected at the other end in a frantic finish to a match that will be long remembered for Kekana's exploits.