FRANSCHOEK (South Africa)  - A statue of former South African leader and Nobel Peace laureate Nelson Mandela has been unveiled at the site of his triumphant release 18 years ago. The statue, outside the prison in Franschoek, east of Cape Town, honours the 90-year-old Mandela and his contribution to abolishing white-minority rule in the country. "In saluting Nelson Mandela in this manner, we remind ourselves as South Africans at what great cost the freedom that we enjoy today was paid," said Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan. Mandela sat between his ex-wife Winnie Mandela and current spouse Graca Machel as the statue was unveiled on Thursday. Mandela was kept in a private house at the Groot Drakenstein prison after being released from Robben Island prison in 1988, where he remained until his release by the apartheid government on February 11 1990. The statue shows Mandela, dressed as he was on his release in a suit, with his left foot stepping forward and his hand thrust into the air. Mandela, who became the country's first president, was hailed for his non-racial approach and conciliatory attitude toward his white oppresors as he sought to create a non-racial society.