"We are very sorry to hear of Ernie's injury, and he will naturally be missed at the Nedbank Golf Challenge because he has been such an integral part of this event for so many years," said tournament director Alastair Roper.
Els is coming off a disappointing PGA Tour season, having missed the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time. He last teed it up at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia earlier this month, where he finished T-64 among a 78-man field.
Fresh off a stretch of five tournaments in as many weeks, Russell Knox was also added to the field, meaning 29 of the 30 participants have been announced. The event will also feature Americans Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Robert Streb, Kevin Na and Scott Piercy.