He has a one-shot advantage over Swedish rookie Bjorn Akesson while a further stroke behind on 67 were Britons David Howell and Gary Lockerbie, Mark Tullo of Chile, India's Jeev Milkha Singh and South Africans Jean Hugo and Charl Coetzee.
Fichardt, who won the Africa Open in East London two weeks ago, dropped his only shot at the 390-yard seventh in a round that included a birdie at the 685-yard par-five fourth, the longest hole in tour history.
"It's funny because I birdied all the tough holes and then the easiest hole on the golf course I bogeyed - that's how this game is sometimes," the 37-year-old told reporters at the Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate.
"This course is awesome, it's very fair," Fichardt said of the Ernie Els-designed layout. "The greens are very soft so you are able to attack the flags."
Bogeys at the seventh and 17th stymied Akesson's progress as he compiled six birdies and an eagle.
"I'm really happy with the way I played. The swing wasn't 100 percent but I made some long putts," said the Swede.
The tournament is the last of six tour events being held in South Africa this season.
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- Jeev Milkha Singh