Els started the day six shots back of fellow South Africans Retief Goosen and Alan McLean, but shot a 7-under 65 to finish at 15-under-par. He then sat and watched as his opposition faltered coming home.
At last, a tournament win this year, said Els, who has won at least one event a year since 1991.
Four players had a chance to force a playoff or even win outright, but none could do so. McLean (72) had the best chance. The local professional pulled an eight-foot birdie putt at the 17th, and then failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker at No. 18.
Goosen (72) needed a chip-in at the final hole to tie Els, but was unable to produce the dramatics. Last week, Els lost to Sergio Garcia in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, when the Spaniard chipped in on the first hole of sudden death.
Goosen and McLean finished tied for second with Martin Maritz (67) and defending champion Trevor Immelman (67) at 14-under.
Ive tried to win every tournament Ive played for the last four or five months but it didnt quite work out for me.
Its wonderful to win in South Africa again on the local tour. I dont think Ive done that since the Dunhill in 1999. Its just unfortunate for Alan ' I think he lead the tournament from the word go, and the pin on 18 was really tough. He was obviously going for the win and pulled up a bit short and plugged in the bunker.
But for myself, Im very happy.
Els got off to a great start Sunday with four straight birdies from the second and another at the par-5 seventh to turn in 31. An eagle at the par-5 11th and a birdie at the 16th took him to 16-under-par, before he slipped back with a bogey at the 17th.
Els said he would now take off a month and rest; though, he will host his own invitational tournament in Fancourt in two weeks.
Full-field scores from the Vodam Players Championship