7 Nov 2012

New South African bank notes feature Mandela

6:52 am on 7 November 2012

South Africa has issued new bank notes featuring the face of former president Nelson Mandela.

The Governor of the Reserve Bank made the first purchase with the new notes when she spent 160 rand (about $US18, £12) on some nuts, beetroot, a watermelon and a cucumber at a shop in Pretoria.

They are the first South African notes to bear the image of a black person - they replace notes with wild animals and rural and industrial scenes.

Mr Mandela, 94, was previously reluctant for things like streets and towns to be named after him.

President Jacob Zuma says the banknotes were a "humble gesture" to express South Africa's "deep gratitude".

Governor Gill Marcus said that Mr Mandela was delighted with the design.

She also noted that South Africa tries to update its currency every seven years for security reasons. The new design includes watermarks and a metal strip.

Mr Mandela's face is on one side of all the new banknotes, while the "Big Five" animals - lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant - remain on the reverse.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his campaign against white minority rule and was elected president the following year before stepping down after a single term.

Known affectionately by his clan name "Madiba", he has now retired from public life.