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SA Reserve Bank puts public on red alert over banknotes stained with blue or green ink

(Photo: Nadine Hutton / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The South African Reserve Bank has issued a warning to the public: if you see banknotes stained blue or green, red lights should flash.

The SA Reserve Bank (Sarb) issued the warning after a number of ATMs were ransacked and emptied of cash during last week’s wave of looting and rioting sparked partly by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma. 

“The looting and unrest over the past week has resulted in infrastructure being damaged, including some automated teller machines (ATMs). ATMs are equipped with technology to stain banknotes in case of attack. This process of protecting the banknotes defaces them so that they carry no monetary value for people who invade ATMs,” Sarb said.

“Sarb wishes to advise the public to be aware and cautious of accepting banknotes that have been stained with traces of blue or green ink. Note that these banknotes are considered the proceeds of crime and have no value and cannot be exchanged,” it said. 

This follows a similar warning last week from the South African Banking Risk Information Centre, which said hundreds of ATMs had been destroyed during the upsurge of mayhem. 

The centre “has noticed an increase in the attempted circulation of dye-stained notes in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, following the destruction of multiple ATMs. The people of South Africa are cautioned against accepting these dye-stained notes as legal tender as the onward use and value of these notes will not be honoured.” 

A leopard may grace the R200 banknote, but it should not change the colour of its spots. If you are passed one that has, you should be seeing red. DM/BM

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  • Please publish pictures of stained banknotes. Are the stain marks obvious and easy to see, even for someone who might not have the best of eye sight?