On February 11, 1990, Mandela was freed from prison after serving 27 years behind bars in Victor-Verster Prison in Paarl, near Cape Town. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 for treason, so the release came as a surprise. Few can forget the image of him walking hand-in-hand with his then-wife, Winnie, into the surrounding pack of overjoyed supporters. He later addressed a crowd of 50,000 people on the balcony of Cape Townâ€™s City Hall. "Our struggle has reached a decisive moment. Our march to freedom is irreversible,â€ Mandela said.