On This Day: Nelson Mandela released from prison after 27 years

Chris Parsons

February 11, 1990: Anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa after 27 years on this day in 1990.

The iconic activist, who went on to serve as President of South Africa for five years, was released following a relaxation of apartheid laws in the country.

This included a lifting of the ban on leading black rights party the African National Congress by then South African president FW de Klerk.

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After his release, Mandela appeared at the gates of the Victor-Verster Prison in Paarl with his wife Winnie.

He beamed at the huge crowds and punched the air with glee, before being driven to Cape Town.

On the balcony of Cape Town City Hall, he spoke to 50,000 people gathered below, telling them 'our march of freedom is irreversible'.

He said: "Now is the time to intensify the struggle on all fronts. To relax now would be a mistake which future generations would not forgive."

Mandela, now 94, has been in and out of hospital in recent years due to ongoing health problems.

In December he underwent an operation to remove gallstones, after going into hospital due to a lung infection.