MASERU — If you have old R200 notes stuffed under your mattress or stashed in a safe you have only a week before they become useless paper.
Worried by fake notes flooding the market, the South African Reserve Bank has recalled the old R200 notes.
The public has until May 31 to exchange the old notes for new ones.
Thereafter the old R200 notes will not be accepted as legal tender in shops and can only be exchanged at the South African Reserve Bank.
Reserve Bank spokeswoman, Samantha Henkeman, said the bank had become concerned that relatively high-quality counterfeit notes had come into circulation.
She said the bank was investigating the source of the counterfeit notes, which did not have the security features of genuine notes.
There is speculation that the counterfeit notes could have been made in Lesotho.
Henkeman said the new R200 banknotes, of the upgraded series bearing the signatures of former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni and current governor Gill Marcus, had security features and was not affected.
“The South African public is encouraged to re-familiarise themselves with the security features on South African banknotes and to examine them on receipt,” Henkeman said.
“Do not hesitate or feel embarrassed about holding a banknote up to the light. Look, feel and tilt the banknotes to ascertain the security features.”
Many businesses have already stopped accepting the old R200 notes with some refusing to take any until the wave of fraudulent notes ends.
Two weeks ago police in Lesotho confiscated R93 000 worth of R200 counterfeit notes in Butha-Buthe.
Police said most of the counterfeit notes were being used by illegal diamond dealers.
Two months ago the South African police issued a public alert on the fake R200 notes which they suspected to have been made in Lesotho.