SA marks 24 years since Mandela’s release from prison

11 February 2014

South Africans are today commemorating the 24th anniversary of the release of the late Nelson Mandela from prison.

On 2 February 1990, then state president FW de Klerk announced Mandela’s release and the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC) and other political parties.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison before becoming the country’s first democratically elected president.

On 11 February 1990, Mandela left Victor Verster Prison in Cape Town a free man, and on that day he addressed thousands of people gathered outside Cape Town’s City Hall.

Accompanied by his then wife Winnie, Mandela was enthusiastically received by the throngs who came to see him.

Mandela spent 18 years on Robben Island and a short period at Pollsmoor Prison before spending the last 14 months of his imprisonment at the Victor Verster Prison, now known as the Drakenstein Correctional Centre.

In June 1964, Madiba and other political activists were sentenced to life in prison.

On his release, Mandela was elected president of the ANC.

He died at the age of 95 on 5 December 2013. Ninety-one heads of state attended Madiba’s funeral, with 4 500 journalists from all over the world covering the event. A national 10-day period of mourning was observed, with unprecedented media coverage of the life and times of the liberation icon.