The South African Mint, a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), released into circulation, the final R2 coin of the series commemorating 25 years of South Africa’s constitutional democracy. Embodying the theme ‘Freedom of Religion, Beliefs and Opinion’ guaranteed by the constitution, the coin is part of the five-coin family of R2s that the South African Mint announced earlier this year.
The SA25 themed ‘Celebrating South Africa’ series features five commemorative R2 circulation coins, a commemorative R5 coin and three collectable coins in gold, silver and bronze alloy. The R2 circulation coins that came before showcased ‘Children’s Rights’, ‘Right to Education’, ‘Environmental Rights’ and ‘Freedom of Movement and Residence’. A circulation coin with a face value of R5 will be launched later this month.
While race-based discrimination was the most obvious during apartheid, religion was a further invidious form of discrimination. Christianity was the dominant religion and was often used by the government to justify its oppressive laws.
Artist Peter Mammes who designed the coin says he wanted to depict people, ethnicity and religion without being specific.
Born in Krugersdorp in 1986, Mammes currently resides in Johannesburg. For most part an autodidact, his training has also included an apprenticeship in a puppet theatre and with a set designer working on theatre productions. His observation of the amorphous historical narratives told by the successive governments ruling SA has been a major influence in his development as an artist. Peter mainly works making drawings but has recently started creating sculptural artworks. He exhibits throughout South Africa.
“The idea of using hands came to me while looking at images of religious ceremonies. The hands on their own do not convey gender,colour,age or any information that might exclude any group among the population of South Africa, while at the same time conveying a sense of unity, freedom and virtue-like swearing an oath in court or praying. Hands speak universally to everyone across every creed and religion, even those without religion can relate,” Mammes adds.
The reverse (tails) features raised hands representing the individual person, also a sign many make to express an opinion and wish to be heard. The obverse (heads) features the national coat of arms together with the date of issue, ‘2019’, and the words ‘South Africa’ written in English and ‘Afrika-Dzonga’ in Xitsonga.
All the SA25 commemorative circulations coins issued by the SARB and the South African Mint, including the collectable range, use a common typeface created by Garth Walker for the Constitutional Court. The typography, as reflected on the commemorative coinage, was created in 2003 as a unique wayfinding system font for the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Garth Walker is credited for the layout of the R5 coins using the typeface.
At the unveiling, Tumi Tsehlo, South African Mint Managing Director said, “The coins are a great way to honour our constitution which works tirelessly to safeguard and advance our rights. So, every time we get them as part of the change, they need to remind us of our responsibilities.”
The commemorative coins are introduced in a phased manner and ‘Freedom of Religion, Beliefs and Opinion’ coin is the final of the R2 coins to be issued. The remaining coin to be issued still within this month is the R5 coin which represents the right to vote.
A special collector’s folder has been created for coin enthusiasts and can be collected, at no cost, from the South African Mint’s retail store in Centurion, as well as the various other outlets mentioned on the SA25 website. South Africans have been encouraged to find, collect and keep these special SA25 circulation coins released over the past few months, and they will soon be able to add this coin to their collection.
The SARB Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, announced the SA25 range of commemorative circulation coins in June as part of commemorating 25 years of SA’s constitutional democracy, together with a series of collectable coins. The SARB would like to reiterate that the new commemorative circulation coins, like all other circulation coins, are ‘normal’ circulation coins that are only worth their face value – R2. The SARB issues commemorative circulation coins as part of its currency production function.
“It has been a hugely exciting and rewarding endeavour to work with young minds in developing these themes. Their understanding of democracy speaks to the progressiveness of our constitution hailed as one of the best in the world,” says Tsehlo in conclusion.
The South African Mint also launched special edition collector’s sets which include all the circulations coins, the R50 silver and the R50 bronze alloy collectable coins. The sets and collectable coins can also be purchased as individual coins from the SA Mint’s outlets, listed on www.sa25.co.za. More information is also available on: