The South African Reserve Bank launches its first commemorative banknotes and a R5 coin at Freedom Park. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
Don’t be alarmed if you are at a shop or ATM and receive unfamiliar notes or coins as change, because you could be one of the first to feel the new Nelson Mandela Centenary banknotes.

For the first time in its history of nearly 100 years, the South African Reserve Bank yesterday launched its first commemorative banknote, and a third commemorative R5 circulation coin in honour of the late president Nelson Mandela.

But before you think of hogging all the notes, think again.

Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago said: “Just like the Mandela notes in 2012, everyone thought they could hoard them, but soon they realised everyone had them." Kganyago said Mandela promoted reconciliation, led the country’s reintegration into the global economy, strengthened the framework for macroeconomic management, and ushered in the Constitution as the first president of the country’s democratic era.

“What could be more fitting than commemorating his life in an instrument that we are all using? Money touches all of us, young and old,” said Kganyago.

The launch was held at an event at Freedom Park, which was well attended by the likes of Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene, Mandela’s granddaughter, Ndileka Mandela, Sello Hatang from the Mandela Foundation and governors from Lesotho and Botswana.

A dazzling exhibition of the notes and R5 coin was set up in the foyer. The larger than normal notes - the R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 ones - depict Mandela’s life, including his upbringing in the rural Eastern Cape as the son of a chief, his 27-year incarceration, and the end of apartheid in 1994, when he became president.

Mandela died in 2013 aged 95.

Ndileka Mandela was emotional and said the occasion was fitting because of where and when it was hosted. “My grandad spoke highly of Freedom Park and it was etched in his heart. Also, today marks the day I lost my dad (Mandela’s son Thembekile) in a car accident. My grandad was in prison then, and the apartheid regime didn’t allow him to attend the funeral."

One of the many security measures put in place to ensure banknotes are genuine is to “check that the ink changes colour on the big number on the front and that you can see the watermark of Mandela on the front of the note when holding it towards a light-source”, the public have been advised.

Pretoria News