Johannesburg - The SA Reserve Bank (Sarb) launched an awareness campaign on Wednesday about a new range of banknotes honouring former president Nelson Mandela.
It said the theme of the range was One of a kind and that it would enter circulation before the end of the year.
The new R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10 notes would show Mandela's face on the front, and the Big Five animals, which appear on the existing notes, on the back.
Security features would include watermarks, micro-printing and unique numbering. There would be raised printing for visually impaired people.
The new banknotes would be the same size as those already in circulation to avoid confusing visually impaired users.
"We are pleased to issue this new series of banknotes which reflects South Africa's pride as a nation and pays tribute to a much-loved world icon," Sarb governor Gill Marcus said at the bank's head office in Pretoria.
She said the campaign had already started in other countries on the continent which used the rand, including Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania.
The banknotes already in circulation remain a legal tender and are of equal value to the new banknotes.
Marcus said that as at December last year, banknotes to the value of R100bn were circulating within the South African economy.
It is important for people to be familiar with the features of the new notes so they could identify counterfeits, she said.
Marcus said it is regarded as a best practice internationally for central banks to upgrade the security features of their banknotes every six to eight years.
"This is to combat counterfeiting, which diminishes the value of real money, robs countries worldwide of billions of rand annually and tarnishes the credibility of a currency, thereby impacting on the growth of that economy," she said.
"We've done our best to ensure that they cannot be replicated."
The campaign, which cost R32m, will end in March.
Marcus could not say how long it would take for the existing notes to work their way out of the system, but said the bank would like to achieve this "as quickly as possible".
Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who attended the launch, said she was thankful for the recognition of Mandela in this way.
"We think it is the best birthday present he ever received on his 94th birthday."
Marcus said there was no campaign to have former presidents on South African banknotes.
"This is a unique feature... this is a design that will stand the test of time, because it is symbolic of... South African history," she said.
The Sarb has launched a new range of banknotes honouring former president Nelson Mandela. (Sapa)
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