11 February 1990: Mandela's Release from Prison

The day the leader of the ANC walked free

By Africa Media Online

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-12-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

A turning point in the history of South Africa

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned by the apartheid government for 27 years. When the day of his release came it was barely believable for so many. Like D-Day in World War II, it marked the turning point in the history of the liberation struggle in South Africa. Although there was still much work to be done to see the nation free, the war had been won. V-Day was inevitable.

Release MandelaOriginal Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

The long walk to freedom
On 11 February. 1990 Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster prison as a free man. He was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

Mandela's release
Crowds were waiting for Mandela to arrive on the day of his release. Thousands of people gathered to watch the landmark event.

Mandela's release (1990-11-02)Original Source: Paul Grendon / South Photos

Waiting with excitement
People were waiting with excitement outside Victor Verster Prison in Paarl.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

Raising the flag
ANC supporters celebrate and taunt the police (with an ANC flag) at Cape Town Airport as foreign dignitaries arrive for the imminent release of Nelson Mandela from Victor Verster Prison.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

A glimpse through the fence
Photographers try to get a glimpse of Nelson Mandela through the fence at the Victor Vester Prison, before his release.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

A special moment
A praise singer outside Victor Vester Prison before Nelson Mandela's release.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

The gates open
Nelson Mandela is a free man and a new era for South Africa starts.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

Excitement in Cape Town
ANC supporters rush through to Grand Parade in Cape Town after Mandela's release from prison.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

Home in Soweto
Nelson Mandela speaks to the crowds outside his Soweto home, after his release from prison.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

Welcomed home
Walter Sisulu and Winnie Mandela are by Nelson Mandela's side.

ANC supporters celebrating Mandela's release from prison (1990-02-11) by Graeme Williams/South PhotographsOriginal Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

It's a celebration
Supporters celebrate Nelson Mandela's release from prison.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

Welcome Mandela
A rally is organised in Soweto where Nelson Mandela addresses the crown.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Cedric Nunn

A warm welcome from Soweto
Soweto welcomes Nelson Mandela on his release from prison.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

Addressing the crowd
Nelson Mandela speaks to the crowds at a rally in Soweto at FNB - First National Bank stadium, after his release from the Victor Vester Prison.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisuluu.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1990-11-02)Original Source: Paul Weinberg / South Photos

The crowd cheer of joy - a new era has begun.

Nelson Mandela released from prison (1994-11-02)Original Source: Graeme Williams / South Photos

11 February 1994: 4 year anniversary
Nelson Mandela outside Victor Verster prison on anniversary of his release from prison.

Credits: Story

Photographer — Graeme Williams / South Photographs
Photographer — Paul Grendon / South Photographs

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Nelson Mandela: 32 Years of Freedom
Celebrating Madiba's return
View theme
Google apps