He fired a 6-under-par 65 to share the first-round lead of the Joburg Open with Mark Murless.
Sion E. Bebb, Pablo Larrazabal and Ross McGowan share third place at 5-under 66.
Play rotates between the East and West courses at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club through the first two rounds with the East Course taking over for the final two rounds.
Rain fell throughout the day on Thursday and the West Course played much easier.
'I'm very happy with a 65 in these conditions,' acknowledged Murless. 'But the East Course will be a lot tougher - instead of hitting wedges in like today, you'll be hitting 8-, 7-, or 6-iron into the greens.'
Despite the strong play of Sunshine Tour regular Murless, Ferreira was the story on Thursday.
Ferreira, who registered 10 top-10s in amateur events last year, took eighth at Sunshine Tour Q School. He admitted feeling some nerves in his professional debut, but they did not last long.
'I was very nervous, but once I had hit my first tee shot I was okay,' said Ferreira. 'On the second, I hit a driver and three-wood to just short of the green, chipped to two feet and made the birdie putt and that good start helped for the rest of the day.'
After the birdie at two, Ferreira recorded back-to-back birdies from the fourth. He parred his next four holes to make the turn at 3-under-par 33.
On the back nine, Ferreira rattled off three birdies in a four-hole span from the 11th. The 20-year-old Ferreira churned out four straight pars to grab his share of the lead.
'I hit the ball well today, I was getting it close to the flag and then the putts started dropping,' Ferreira said. 'I know this course quite well because while I've been in the School of Champions for the last two years we've played here most Tuesdays.'
Murless posted two birdies and a bogey through his first six holes. He tallied another birdie at nine to spark a spectacular run that vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard.
He rattled off four birdies in a row to start his second nine. That made five in a row for Murless, who parred out to join Ferreira in first.
David Drysdale, Gary Lockerbie, Oliver Bekker, Garth Mulroy, Ryan Reid, Marco Ruiz and Sven Struver are knotted in sixth place at 4-under-par 67.
Darren Clarke was supposed to play in the Royal Trophy in Thailand, but the event was cancelled after the death of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the elder sister of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Clarke might have wished the Royal Trophy was back on because he shot a 2-over 73 and is tied for 89th place.
The event is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Sunshine Tour.