Manufacturing production increased by 2.9% in July, boosted by growth in vehicle and parts sales, figures released on Tuesday by Statistics South Africa showed.
This was higher than the estimates of most economists, who had expected a more modest 1% rise.
Food and beverages added 5.8 and 1.5 percentage points respectively. The agency said seasonally adjusted manufacturing production increased by 1.9% in the three months ended July 2018, compared with the previous three months.
Petroleum, chemicals, metal products and machinery were some of the biggest contributors to growth. Seasonally adjusted manufacturing production increased by 1.6% in July 2018 compared with June 2018.
Last week, figures released by the Pretoria-based national agency revealed that real gross domestic product had decreased by 0.7% in the second quarter of the year, plunging the economy in recession. This follows a restated negative 2.6% growth rate in the first quarter.
The economy has been over the last few years been under pressure from external economic factors, including low investors confidence, amid policy uncertainty. Poor growth number have piled pressure on President Ramaphosa's new government to move with speed to stem the economic decline.
While manufacturing data was positive, a separate report released Tuesday by Rand Merchant Bank and Stellenbosch University's Bureau for Economic Research found that SA's business confidence had declined to the lowest level this year.