THE anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 was celebrated yesterday.

The former president made history when he left Victor Verster Prison in Paarl, Western Cape, after spending 27 years behind bars.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “In everything we do, we should always seek to emulate his values of peace, human dignity, justice and service to all humanity.”

On Vilakazi Street in Soweto, where Mandela once lived, residents told the SunTeam they still remembered his release as if it was yesterday.

Bongani Buthelezi (56) said he was still in KZN at the time.

“I remember pupils had to leave school because of what had happened.

Ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Nelson Mandela salute a group of supporters. Photo by Allan Tannenbaum/ Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

“Although we were excited, we were also nervous about what the future held,” he said.

Shadrack Motau (74) said they were excited to see one of their own return. He said they expected to be addressed by Mandela on the day of his release but he couldn’t make it.

“We waited the next day but he didn’t make it. On the 13th Chris Hani contacted me to help Mandela with a door-to-door campaign,” he said.

“They didn’t have a camera that day and used mine. To this day it’s my proudest possession.”