The Rand currency was introduced in the then Union of South Africa on 14 February 1961, shortly before the establishment of the Republic on 31 May 1961. The largest circulating coin at the time was fifty cents; gradually, new coins were introduced to replace banknotes, with the highest circulating denomination now being Five Rand (abbreviated as R5). The Five Rand coin is bimetallic, with a brass centre and a copper-nickel outer ring. The edge has a "security groove" and lettering repeated ten times around the coin: SARB R5 (SARB for the South African Reserve Bank, which is the issuer of the coin, and R5 as abbreviation of the value).
From time to time, the South African Mint issues commemorative designs in the denomination, to mark special occasions.
This coin was issued as part of the 2017 Celebrating South Africa coin series, which celebrates milestones and symbols of South Africa’s freedom, democracy and culture.
The mint says:
"In 2017, the South African Mint introduced the theme of Celebrating South Africa. Fittingly, the same year marks the centenary of the birth, on 27 October 1917, of Oliver Reginald Tambo. This product series commemorates his legacy by depicting the roles he played at various stages of his life and political career in securing a free, democratic and culturally dynamic South Africa
"Comrade OR", as he was affectionately known, was a founding member of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League and between 1944 and his untimely passing in 1993, took on various leadership roles in the party including General Secretary, National Chairperson, Deputy President and President.
Although "Comrade OR" did not fully experience the liberated and democratic dispensation we now enjoy, he spent the better part of his life standing up for those very ideals - for this, his legacy lives on.
The series consists of a 1 oz pure-gold R500 proof coin, a 1 oz sterling-silver R50 proof coin, a base-metal R50 non-circulating legal tender coin and R5 commemorative circulation coin."