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S. Africa’s Marcus Spends Mandela Banknotes on Beetroot

November 06, 2012

South African Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus

South African Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus displays bank notes bearing the image of former president Nelson Mandela, in Pretoria. Photographer: Denis Farrell/AP

South African Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus today bought watermelon, almonds, aubergines, a cucumber and beetroots using the first batch of banknotes bearing the image of Nelson Mandela.

Automated Teller Machines will start dispensing the new notes from today, Marcus said at the Lynwood Housewife Market, in a suburb of Pretoria, where she and her mother have been buying groceries from the independently owned shop for about 30 years.

Mandela, 94, who became South Africa’s first black president after 27 years in prison for his role in the fight against apartheid, “really is an extraordinary man and this is a way in which we pay tribute to him,” Marcus told reporters. “All of us relate to him in one way or the other. He has touched the lives of everyone.”

The banknotes include a watermark of Mandela’s face, an imprint of their denomination in lettering only visible through a magnifying glass, several raised features and raised lines to assist visually impaired users.

The notes will keep pictures of the so-called Big Five wild animals in Africa: rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard which adorn the 10 rand ($1.15), 20 rand, 50 rand, 100 rand and 200 rand bills in ascending order.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at

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