The selectors recalled specialist middle-order batsmen Damien Martyn and Michael Clarke while dropping Brad Hodge from their 14-man squad.
They also recalled fast bowlers Shaun Tait and Michael Kasprowicz after dropping Nathan Bracken and Glenn McGrath made himself unavailable while his wife if being treated for cancer.
''We've put together a squad to cover what we believe is going to be a tough Test series in South Africa,'' Australia's chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said in a statement released today.
''We've taken into account the fact that three Tests are virtually back-to-back and we believe we've got adequate cover in this squad to manage that tight schedule.'' Martyn was dropped after the Ashes defeat in England while Clarke lost his place to Brad Hodge after the second Test against the West Indies in December.
Hohns said Martyn and Clarke both deserved another chance although he said Hodge was very unlucky to lose his place. The stocky right-hander averaged over 58 in his five Tests this summer and made an unbeaten double-century in his first Test against South Africa in Perth.
''Damien Martyn has had some time out of the team and we feel this is the right time to slot him back in at number four. The introduction of Michael Clarke follows some productive time away from the Test team,'' Hohns said.
''Michael has worked very hard on his batting during this time and we're very comfortable with the progress he's made.
''Brad Hodge can count himself unlucky not to be included. It is fair to say that the (selectors) were looking for Brad to put together some really big scores in (domestic first-class) cricket to consolidate his position in the Test squad but unfortunately that hasn't happened.''
Kasprowicz was dropped during the Ashes series but has been in great form in the domestic competition while Tait, who replaced Jason Gillespie for the last two Ashes Tests, was recalled after recovering from injury.
''The decision on the make-up of the fast bowling quartet was not an easy one, given that we are without Glenn McGrath for this series,'' Hohns said.
''We wanted a blend of pace, youth, experience and line and length and believe we have all of these covered with our selection.
''Shaun Tait is coming back from a shoulder injury and we're satisfied with the progress he's made. He's back bowling at full pace so we're happy that the injury isn't hampering his bowling. We believe he has a bright future at Test level.''
Australia squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden, Mike Hussey, Michael Kasprowicz, Justin Langer, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Warne.