“Nelson Mandela’s historic 1990 walk to freedom has been retraced by thousands of South Africans, who celebrated the anti-apartheid activist’s release from prison 20 years ago. 

The symbolic march in Cape Town was joined by veterans of the liberation movement as well as prominent figures and top leaders of Mandela’s ruling African National Congress party.

The 91-year-old former president made a rare public appearance on Thursday, attending a commemorative parliament speech by scandal-hit South African President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma praised Mandela’s enduring vision which he said was followed to date in the country.

Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment sentence was spent mostly in Robben Island prison, off the coast of Cape Town, and later in Pollsmoor Prison on the mainland, before he was confined to a cottage in the grounds of Victor Verster prison some 50km (31 miles) from Cape Town.

Victor Verster has been renamed to Groot Drakenstein Prison and was adorned with a larger-than-life bronze statue of Mandela erected outside its walls in 2008.

Cyril Ramaphosa, an activist and successful businessman who headed the reception committee 20 years ago, told a cheering the crowd that when Mandela was freed South Africans also knew that their freedom had arrived.

‘When comrade Nelson Mandela was released, as he walked out of these prison gates, we knew that his freedom meant that our freedom had also arrived. As he became free we also knew that we were now free,’ he said.”


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