The trouble with leopards
By Liz Clarke
Arriving in South Africa on June 1, I was warned about the 200 Rand note, the largest and prettiest of the currency's denomination--worth about $28, with a spectactular Leopard on one side--because it's so frequently conterfeited that merchants and even banks refuse to accept them.
I then realized that I'd been given three 200 Rand notes by the American Express travel office in Washington before leaving. So I decided to save one as a souvenir and ask the wonderful Steve Goff, who was heading to a South African bank that day, to see if the teller would exchange the bills for me.
Steve succeeded but only after being informed that the deadline for trading in worthless 200 Rand Leopards had just passed, and the bank was only accommodating him as a gesture of World Cup-inspired good will.
So imagine my annoyance Wedneday, some six weeks later, when I went to a Nedbank ATM at the Cape Town airport to withdraw 1,000 Rand, and out came five Leopards. I phoned Gift, an exceptional taxi driver and friend in Johannesburg, to ask if he could pick me up at the airport and take me to a Nedbank branch to raise a stink about the fraud.
Gift just laughed.
"They are OK now," Gift said, explaining that a new batch had been issued by President Jacob Zuma's administration with a special signature affirming their legitimacy. The signature was exactly where Gift said it would be.
That's the trouble with Leopards. Lovely to look at. Coveted by many. But unpredictable to hold.
July 7, 2010; 6:54 AM ET
Categories: 2010 World Cup , South Africa | Tags: 2010 World Cup, South Africa, leopards, rands
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