On this day Mandela was released

By Drum Digital
11 February 2014

On this day, Nelson Mandela was released unconditionally from prison after 27 years.

Accompanied by his wife Winnie, Mandela left the Victor Verster prison (renamed Drakenstein Correctional Centre) on the outskirts of Paarl and was driven 60 km to Cape Town by African National Congress's Rose Sonto along a route lined by thousands of supporters.

It is one of the supreme ironies that on 11 February 1990, the day that Nelson Mandela was released, the event that much of South Africa and the rest of the world had been waiting decades for the country was not ready for him.

Mandela's release followed the relaxation of apartheid laws - including lifting the ban on leading liberation organisations (e.g. ANC, SACP, PAC) by South African President FW de Klerk.

In commemoration of his release, people across the country danced in the streets.

Unfortunately the revelry also caused some problems, as doctors had to treat over a hundred people as police clashed with youths looting shops in various cities and townships.

In Mdantsane, in there then Ciskei, 10 people were killed when soldiers used force against a group of revellers celebrating Mandela's release.

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