New R5 and R2 coins for South Africa

 ·2 May 2023

National Treasury has gazetted (2 May 2023) the design specifications for South Africa’s new coins, which should enter circulation in 2023.

The gazette amends schedule 2 of the South African Reserve Bank Act, 1989, which deals with the denomination, description, composition, sizes and allowable deviations in South Africa’s circulation coins and special coins like krugerrands.

The South African Reserve Bank revealed the new designs for the 2023 Fourth Decimal Coin Series of South Africa, which are considered legal tender from 1 January 2023.

The new coins were first announced during a virtual meeting in August 2022, where the cabinet green-lit the new dimension, design, and composition of the coins.

There are some key changes being made to the coins, including some of the materials being used, animals and icons depicted, as well as some technical changes.

For example, the word “South Africa” will be inserted on one side of the coins and printed in all the official languages.

The coins will be minted on a rotational system with the use of all the official languages printed onto the coin over a certain period. For the next ten years, the languages will be alternated annually.

The following number of languages will be minted of the various coin varieties:

  • R5 – three languages will be used;
  • R2, 50c, and 10c – two languages will be used;
  • R1 – only one language will be used.

The gazetted designs have revealed a host of other changes – including changes to some of the animals featured on the coins.

New R5 coin

The new R5 coin will replace the iconic wildebeest as its featured animal and replace it with the southern right whale. It will retain the bi-meta alloy from before, weighing 9.5g with a 26mm diameter.

New R2 coin

The R2 coin has replaced the kudu with the springbuck and shifts the borders around for a more diamond shape. The 2023 circulation will be a nickel-plated steel (from nickel-plated copper before) which will make it slightly heavier (6.5g vs 5.5g).

New R1 coin

The R1 coin replaces the springbuck with South Africa’s official flower, the protea, and has a new pentagonal border. As with the R2 coin, the R1 coin will be nickel-plated steel, and slightly heavier than the older coins at 5g.

New 50c coin

The 50 cent coin is dropping the strelitzia – the bird of paradise – for an actual bird, with the loerie (turaco) making its debut in circulation. The coin has also adopted a hexagonal border, cutting down from the nonagonal (9-sided) shape before. The coin remains bronze-plated steel, though it will be 0.5g lighter than the older coins.

New 20c coin

The protea’s promotion to the R1 has left space in the 20-cent coin for another plant, with the coin now playing host to aloe. Its border has also dropped from a nonagon and is now a heptagon (7-sided). As with the 50c, the coin remains bronze-plated steel, also slightly lighter.

New 10c coin

South Africa’s smallest coin denomination – the 10-cent – is bidding farewell to the arum lily and making way for the honeybee. Its border is dropping one side to become an octagon. The size, make-up and weight remains unchanged.

The full spec sheet for the coins in below:

This is how the new coins compare to the old ones.

Read: South Africa’s new circulation coins compared – these are the big changes

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