13 Feb 2010

South Africa marks anniversary of Mandela's release

8:58 am on 13 February 2010

South Africa marked the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison on Thursday.

Mr Mandela was jailed for life in 1964 for plotting to overthrow the South African government by violence.

During his years in prison he became an international symbol of resistance to apartheid.

In Cape Town, prominent figures took part in a commemorative walk at the prison where he spent the final months of his 27 years of imprisonment.

Mr Mandela served most of his sentence in Robben Island prison, off the coast of Cape Town, and was later in Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland.

Before his release, he lived in a cottage in the grounds of Victor Verster prison in a rural area some 50km from Cape Town, with his own cook.

In 1990, he was freed and a ban against the African National Congress was lifted.

Mr Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994.

The BBC reports Mr Mandela did not join the walk. Now aged 91 and frail, he madea rare public appearance on Thursday evening when President Jacob Zuma addressed the nation.