South Africans withdrawing money from ATMs may be in for a pleasant surprise - a souvenir of former President Nelson Mandela, who was born 100 years ago this month.
The South African Reserve Bank has started stocking ATMs with commemorative bank notes in remembrance of the late Madiba, South Africa's first democratically elected president. Each note will reflect a different period in his life, from his birthplace to his influence on the nation as a statesman.
On Friday, the official launch was held for the notes, as well as a special R5 coin.
Delivering an address in Freedom Park, Pretoria Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago described the launch as a national first, saying it was the first time in its history of nearly 100 years that the SARB was launching commemorative banknotes and a third commemorative R5 circulation coin.
"As the first president of our democratic era, Mandela promoted reconciliation, led our reintegration into the global economy, strengthened the framework for macroeconomic management and ushered in our Constitution," he said.
"Nelson Mandela touched all of us. South Africans from all walks of life – rural and urban. What could be more fitting than to commemorate his life through an instrument that we all use every day?
The SARB’s group executive for currency management Pradeep Maharaj, said the SARB would be introducing the new bank notes into circulation until the printed notes run out.
"We have printed enough to ensure every South African will get to touch and transact with these notes," he said.
As of today, ATMs have been stocked with the notes and they have been introduced to banks.
The SARB also launched a mobile application as a platform to create greater public awareness of the security, technical and design features of the banknotes.
"Whenever you give or receive a commemorative banknote - connect with your fellow South Africans and pass on our values," the Reserve Bank encouraged South Africans on its Twitter feed.
According to the SARB, every commemorative banknote and the R5 circulation coin reflects part of the history of the former president.
The R10 banknote commemorates Madiba’s birthplace of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape.
The R20 banknote features Mandela’s Soweto home, where he defined his political life.
"The R50 banknote depicts the site where Madiba was captured near Howick following 17 months in hiding. This moment set in motion events that would change his life forever," the Reserve Bank said in a statement issued earlier this week.
The 100 bank note reflects on Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment on Robben Island, while the R200 bank note comes from the moment 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," the SARB said.
Also read: Media24 and HuffPost to end SA partnership