Millions of South Africans will now carry the smiling face of ex-President Nelson Mandela in their pockets and purse after a range of currency notes depicting the anti-apartheid icon on the one side was released today.
Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus officially put the new notes into circulation as legal tender by using them for a purchase at a local grocery store here.
“(Mandela) is delighted, very excited about it. We did show him the designs, the drafts and everything else,” Marcus said. “This is our way to pay tribute to him. Madiba does represent something special, not only in South Africa. He is really an extraordinary human being.”
The new banknotes still carry images on the other side of South Africa Big Five wild animals – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino – on the R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 denominations.
The new banknotes are the same size as the previous ones, but have been designed with additional security features to avoid counterfeiting, such as watermarks, micro-printing, and unique numbering.
Raised printing is also a new feature to assist those with visual impairment.
According to Marcus, there were bank notes worth R100 billion circulating in South Africa at the end of 2011.