Establishing ancestry from a skeleton for forensic purposes has been shown to be difficult. The purpose of this paper is to address the application of thirteen non-metric traits to estimate ancestry in three South African groups, namely White, Black and “Coloured”. In doing so, the frequency distribution of thirteen non-metric traits among South Africans are presented; the relationship of these non-metric traits with ancestry, sex, age at death are evaluated; and Kappa statistics are utilized to assess the inter and intra-rater reliability. Crania of 520 known individuals were obtained from four skeletal samples in South Africa: the Pretoria Bone Collection, the Raymond A. Dart Collection, the Kirsten Collection and the Student Bone Collection from the University of the Free State. Average age at death was 51, with an age range between 18 and 90. Thirteen commonly used non-metric traits from the face and jaw were scored; definition and illustrations were taken from Hefner , Bass  and Hauser and De Stephano . Frequency distributions, ordinal regression and Cohen's Kappa statistics were performed as a means to assess population variation and repeatability. Frequency distributions were highly variable among South Africans. Twelve of the 13 variables had a statistically significant relationship with ancestry. Sex significantly affected only one variable, inter-orbital breadth, and age at death affected two (anterior nasal spine and alveolar prognathism). The interaction of ancestry and sex independently affected three variables (nasal bone contour, nasal breadth, and interorbital breadth). Seven traits had moderate to excellent repeatability, while poor scoring consistency was noted for six variables. Difficulties in repeating several of the trait scores may require either a need for refinement of the definitions, or these character states may not adequately describe the observable morphology in the population. The application of the traditional experience-based approach for estimating ancestry in forensic case work is problematic.