Named for the Cape of Good Hope, this species is commonly known as the Cape Skink or Cape Three-lined Skink, and it has recently been reassigned to the genus Trachylepis (previously it was classed in Mabuya).

The lizard is a large (sometimes quite fat) skink, with three stripes running down its back. Its skin is olive-brown to gray, and between the stripes and on its flanks are lots of small dark spots. The belly is greyish white. Occasionally the stripes on the back can be quite pale. Its body is rather elongated and the limbs are short.