‘Banginkulu’ or ‘Bangikulu’: SA language board clears the air on banknote ‘typo’

The changes of spelling in new bank notes has caused a stir.
Image: Twitter/ David Selemogo

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) has responded to claims a Xitsonga word was “incorrectly” spelt on SA’s new bank notes.

The South African Reserve Bank released new bank notes and coins last week. The money does not only have design differences but also spelling changes.

The spelling of the Xitsonga word “Banginkulu Ya Afrika-Dzonga” was changed to “Bangikulu Ya Afrika-Dzonga”. Dropping an “n” from the first word.

Some raised concerns over the spelling‚ saying it was incorrect.

PanSALB Xitsonga National Language Body chairperson Dr Arnold Mushwana said the changes were implemented after consultations with the language board that had advised on the new spelling.

He said the old bank notes had the incorrect spelling‚ and the new notes rectified the error.

“The Pan South African Language Board hereby confirms the words written in Xitsonga‚ ‘Bangikulu’ as reflected on the upgraded banknotes to be accurate and correct and is consistent with the revised Spelling and Orthography Rules published by the Pan South African Language Board in May 2022‚” Mushwana said.

Mushwana said the spelling was verified and authenticated by the Xitsonga National Language Body (NLB) which had previously pointed out the error.

The term “Bangikulu” was spelt erroneously as “Banginkulu” with an N that was not supposed to be there.


“Bangikulu is a compound noun which is formed by two words‚ the noun ‘bangi’ and the adjective stem ‘-kulu’ to form bangikulu. The N cannot be accounted for as to where it is coming from.

“As much as we cannot say bangi leyinkulu/yinkulu‚ we also cannot say banginkulu‚” explained Mushwana.

The last time the Reserve Bank made design changes was in 2018. The bank’s governor Lesetja Kganyago said the new changes were done to upgrade security features on the bank notes.

“The Big 5 animals on the back of the banknotes are now depicted with their young‚ celebrating diversity of age. To further enhance security‚ the denomination animals are visible in various other areas of the banknotes‚ including the see-through perfect print registration feature and the watermark.”

Source: ARENA Holdings.