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How to tell if your new Mandela banknote or coin is a fake

The new Mandela banknotes and coins will be in circulation from July 13. Make sure you can tell if your banknotes and coins are real or fake.

New Mandela banknotes
Isolated Spread South African Rand Notes iStock/ lcswart

The South African Reserve Bank has released new banknotes and coins to honour Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. The new notes and coins will be in circulation from 13 July only from commercial banks.

“This is a proud moment for the SARB and indeed for our country. It is the first time in the history of the SARB that we issue a series of commemorative banknotes, and there is no more fitting an occasion than the 100th birthday of Madiba. In addition, the SARB will also be issuing a commemorative R5 circulation coin to celebrate this occasion. Importantly, this is all about celebrating the values that live within every South African and about turning the moment of money exchange into a moment of mutual respect. We encourage all citizens to join us in this proud movement,” said SARB Governor Lesetja Kganyago in a statement.

According to a press release by the SARB, the banknotes and coins will be as follows

  • The R10 banknote features Mandela’s humble birthplace of Mvezo.
  • The R20 banknote features Mandela’s home in Soweto, where he defined his political life alongside other struggle icons.
  • The R50 banknote depicts the site where Madiba was captured near Howick following 17 months in hiding.
  • Madiba’s time on Robben Island is depicted on the R100 banknote, where he was incarcerated for 18 of his 27 years in prison.
  • The inspiration for the R200 banknote comes from the moment when Madiba greeted the nation for the first time as a statesman.
  • The commemorative R5 circulation coin features a portrait of Madiba, smiling at the nation he helped to build.

SARB recently launched a public awareness campaign to ensure people know how to tell if their banknotes and coins are real.

Below are the security measures:

For the R5 coin, check that the ‘1918’ on the face of the coin changes to ‘2018’ when your coin is tilted. You should also be able to see ‘SARB’ and ‘R5’ inscribed on the outer edge of the coin.

For the banknote, check that you can feel the raised lines on the bottom left and right and that it has two matching numbers on the back. 

You should also 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.

Another security measure is that you should be able to feel the raised printing on Mandela’s face on the front of the note and see a series of ‘little dots’ on the front-left and back-right of the notes.

Lastly, you should be able to see the full animal when held to the light. Also, check for a shiny security check that changes colour when the banknote is tilted.

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