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 2018 Celebrating South Africa coin series, which celebrates milestones and symbols of South Africa’s freedom, democracy and culture. The first coin series in this theme was the 2017 OR Tambo Centenary range; this one marks 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela.
The coins of the 2018 series - of which this circulating commemorative Five Rand coin is central - look back at the remarkable stages of Mandela’s life, and his struggle for justice, human rights, and a free and democratic South Africa. Note that there we also Nelson Mandela coins in the 2018 Protea coin series.