Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus made the first purchase with South Africa’s new bank notes at a humble grocery store in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Ms Marcus said the new notes, which have new innovative security features and an image of former president Nelson Mandela, would become more prevalent in South Africa over the next few months.
"It will take a while to phase the old notes out but over the next few months we should see the next the new notes should become more dominant," Ms Marcus said.
The Bank needs to update and upgrade the security features of South African bank notes at least every seven years, to make the notes difficult to counterfeit. This is also an international standard.
The new security features include spark colour-changing ink, a clear image of Mandela as well as a watermark image of him, and embossed lines on the sides of the notes for the visually impaired.
The new notes remain unchanged in size compared with the old notes.
Ms Marcus spent about R160 of the new notes, buying fruits and vegetables including eggplant, watermelon and avocado.
Mr Mandela was excited and humbled by his appearance on the bank notes, Ms Marcus said, and it was a fitting way to acknowledge him.
She said she chose the grocer for the first purchase because she did not want to appear partial to branded stores and supermarkets.
Housewife Market store owner Louis de Freitas said Ms Marcus had been shopping at the grocer since it opened 30 years ago.
"I feel wonderful about the Mandela notes," Mr de Freitas said.
Ms Marcus said the notes would be placed in automatic teller machines (ATMs) from Tuesday.