11 February 2019

South Africa: In History - Mandela Released From Prison

Photo: Nelson Mandela Foundation
(file photo)

On this day in 1990, Nelson Mandela left Victor Verster Prison in Cape Town a free man, after spending 27 years in prison.

Accompanied by his then wife Winnie, Mandela was enthusiastically received by the throngs of people who gathered to see him outside Cape Town's City Hall.

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.

Upon his release, Mandela was elected president of the ANC. This paved the way for South Africa's years of peace-making, negotiating, reckoning and transforming.

South Africa's transition from apartheid ended formally on 27 April 1994 with the first democratic general election.

Madiba's presidency was about making democracy stick and putting in place the instruments required to transform society fundamentally.

While South Africans should still celebrate the country's break from colonial and apartheid shackles, his foundation on Monday urged South Africans to go out in their numbers to vote in the 2019 general election set for 8 May.

"For us this has to be about a vote for delivery. We need a leadership at every level of society which holds the promise of the 1990s," the foundation said in a statement.

In 1999, Madiba stepped down as President and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) as his post-presidential office and vehicle for supporting what he regarded as unfinished business.

He died at the age of 95 on 5 December 2013.

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