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5 cents makes no sense at all

By unknown | Oct 24, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Five cent coins must be the most despised coinage in the country.

Try paying a fare with the coins in a taxi or bus, or buying a recharge voucher at a spaza shop and you'll probably have them tossed back in your face.

"What do you want me to do with this?" That's the kind of question that might follow if you tender five cent pieces.

Sowetan put using the five cent piece to the test.

Photographer Antonio Muchave and I took a taxi from Riverlea to Orlando East, Soweto, with the intention of paying with the much-hated coins.

Muchave paid with 50 cents made up of only five cent pieces and the reaction from the driver said it all.

"Please keep it. I don't take cents," said the gaping driver.

"This money has no value and passengers won't accept it."

The owner of Crawley's take-away in Industria said she didn't accept five cent pieces because customers would not take them in the form of change.

We see the coins every day in streets and parking lots and nobody bothers to pick them up except the cleaning squads.

Some people have loads of these coins in bottles at homes.

"People need to be educated about the value of the five cent coins. This is real money," said a SA Mint employee who did not want to be named.

But, on the other side of the coin, most consumers would be miffed if they were short-changed by the very five cents that they despise so much.

Some have even reported or written on their blogs about being short-changed at supermarket retailers, fast food outlets and many other stores, big and small.

"It's my money and I should decide what to do with it," said Mbali Ngidi.

She said her experience with most cashiers was that they don't even bother to tell you that they don't have five cent coins in their tills.

"They just look at you and say nothing. They expect you to walk away and leave your change there," Ngidi said.

"But try and pay five cents less than the sale price of a loaf of bread or airtime and the cashier will suddenly care about the value of that five cent piece."

Reserve Bank currency division head Mzimkhulu Twala said five cent coins were still an important element in the country's economy.

"The five cent coins still have value and are legal tender," he said.

Twala said people should accept them and retailers are obliged to give customers change.

He said retailers should ask their banks to provide them with the coins.


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