The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence, antibiotic susceptibility profiles, and virulence genes determinants of S. aureus isolated from milk obtained from retail outlets of the North-West Province, South Africa. To achieve this, 200 samples of raw, bulk and pasteurised milk were obtained randomly from supermarkets, shops and some farms in the North-West Province between May 2012 and April 2013. S. aureus was isolated and positively identified using morphological (Gram staining), biochemical (DNase, catalase, haemolysis and rapid slide agglutination) tests, protein profile analysis (MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry) and molecular (nuc specific PCR) methods. The antimicrobial resistance profiles of the isolates were determined using the phenotypic agar diffusion method. Genes encoding enterotoxins, exfoliative toxins and collagen adhesins were also screened using PCR. Among all the samples examined, 30 of 40 raw milk samples (75%), 25 of 85 bulk milk samples (29%) and 10 of 75 pasteurised milk samples (13%) were positive for S. aureus. One hundred and fifty-six PCR-confirmed S. aureus isolates were obtained from 75 contaminated milk samples. A large proportion (60%–100%) of the isolates was resistant to penicillin G, ampicillin, oxacillin, vancomycin, teicoplanin and erythromycin. On the contrary, low level resistance (8.3%–40%) was observed for gentamicin, kanamycin and sulphamethoxazole. Methicillin resistance was detected in 59% of the multidrug resistant isolates and this was a cause for concern. However, only a small proportion (20.6%) of these isolates possessed PBP2a which codes for Methicillin resistance in S. aureus. In addition, 32.7% of isolates possessed the sec gene whereas the sea, seb sed, see, cna, eta, etb genes were not detected. The findings of this study showed that raw, bulk and pasteurised milk in the North-West Province is contaminated with toxigenic and multi-drug resistant S. aureus strains. There is a need to implement appropriate control measures to reduce contamination as well as the spread of virulent S. aureus strains and the burden of disease in humans.