Prince Harry, Meghan and Archie arrive in Cape Town for first leg of their Africa tour

By Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 11:08 AM ET, Wed September 25, 2019
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12:56 p.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Meghan tells victims of gender-based violence: "I am here for you"

CNN's Lauren Moorhouse in Nyanga township, Cape Town

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, makes a speech as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township with Prince Harry during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, makes a speech as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township with Prince Harry during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex has hailed the "incredible work" done by a South African community group to combat gender-based violence.

“You are incredible and what you are doing is so powerful because you are so powerful," she told workers and volunteers at the Justice Desk in Cape Town's Nyanga township. "The work that is being done here to keep women and children safer is needed more than ever.”

Meghan said she and Prince Harry had been following South Africa's gender violence crisis as much as they could from afar, but that they were keen to learn more now that they were in the country. 

“We are eager to learn and see first hand the vital work that you’re doing ... on the ground to make the change, not just that you need but also deserve.” 

The rights of women and girls is something that is very close to my heart … I know that when women are empowered the entire community flourishes," Meghan continued.

"On one personal note, may I just say that while I’m here with my husband as a member of the royal family, I want you to know that for me, I am here has a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color and as your sister," she added.

I am here with you and I am here for you."

9:43 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Harry: It's time to redefine masculinity

CNN's Lauren Moorhouse in Nyanga township, Cape Town

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex meet well-wishers during a visit to The Justice Desk. Source: Getty Images.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex meet well-wishers during a visit to The Justice Desk. Source: Getty Images.

Visiting a project that provides self-defense classes and female empowerment training to girls and young women on the first day of a royal visit to South Africa, Prince Harry says it is time to rethink what masculinity means.

"Touching on what your president said last week: No man is born to cause harm to women. This is learned behavior and a cycle that needs to be broken," the Prince told a cheering crowd outside Nyanga Methodist Church in Cape Town.

Now it's about redefining masculinity. It's about creating your own footprint for your children to follow in so that you can make a positive change for the future."

Beaming from ear to ear, Harry thanked the crowds of well-wishers who had gathered in Nyanga township to welcome him and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

"I wanted to ensure that our first visit as a family, with my wife by my side, focused on the significant challenges facing millions of South Africans, while acknowledging the hope that we feel so strongly," he told the crowd.

Harry said the couple was "incredibly grateful" to have the chance to listen and learn about "the issues that define your daily lives in these communities."

"That's what this is -- a community. A community where men and women have a vital role to play."

8:51 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Royals dancing in the streets of South Africa

Meghan and Harry appear to be getting in the swing of things, just hours after touching down in South Africa.

The couple don't seem to be letting the jet lag get them down, joining in the dancing in the sunshine outside Nyanga Methodist Church in Cape Town:

8:15 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Royal couple chat to locals after touching down in South Africa

7:49 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Harry and Meghan have arrived

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have begun the first engagement on their 10-day tour of southern Africa.

Enthusiastic cheers and shouts greeted the royal couple as they arrived at Nyanga Methodist Church in Nyanga township, Cape Town, on Monday afternoon.

The couple spent several minutes greeting members of the community connected to the Justice Desk initiative while musicians and dancers continued to perform in the church courtyard.

Meghan excitedly chatted to several women and embraced a number of them outside the church.

Meanwhile Harry bent down to talk to children sat on the floor, all of whom were beaming at the opportunity to meet a special visitor.

7:47 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

First up: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex head to Nyanga township

With no formal arrival ceremony, Harry and Meghan will kick off their first visit to South Africa together with a visit to Nyanga township where they will attend a workshop put together by Justice Desk, a human rights organization that operates in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The organization educates children about their rights, self-awareness and safety, and provides self-defense classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community.

The couple will meet Jessica Dewhurst, Justice Desk's founder and a Queen’s Young Leader, and Theodora Luthuli, one of the group's community leaders.

The engagement will begin with the students reciting "Our Deepest Fear," the club’s anthem, before the girls break off into four training groups.

Ahead of their arrival at Nyanga Methodist Church, where the event is due to take place, children were dancing and singing in the sunshine while the media gathered nearby.

7:27 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Into the "red zones"

From CNN's David McKenzie and Brent Swails

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle touch down in Cape Town, they will be landing in an unequal city in the world’s most unequal country.

There is the Cape Town the world knows: Table Mountain; the wineries; the spectacular beaches. And then there is the other side of Cape Town, where murder rates are high and gang violence grips communities. 

“They are holding the community hostage," said Abdul Waheem Martin, the leader of an ambulance crew that services the Cape Flats.

"If you are looking at these areas, every person’s house has got burglar bars on the inside and on the outside – their homes look like a prison cell. These people are scared."

The South African Apartheid government created the "Flats," as they are commonly known, when it forced non-white South Africans out of large areas of the city center and its suburbs.

The royal couple will visit some of these areas, where security is such a concern to the organizers that even journalists covering the event won’t know where they are headed until the last minute.

Crime is so endemic here that even ambulance crews were attacked and robbed more than 80 times in 2018. Martin and his team now need police escorts to enter so-called "red zones" – even if it means patients will die because of the wait.

“It is frustrating – the guys get restless sitting here. Because we know that there is someone that seriously needs our immediate medical attention and unfortunately because of the situation we can’t get to the patient quick enough,” said Martin. 

Teenager Naasief died in 2016, shot as he stood outside a store near his home in the township.

“He was my pillar of strength. He was my blessing,” says his mother, Shannaz.

Shannaz and other mothers who have lost sons to violence in the "Flats" say the gangs present young kids with an awful choice.

“In most cases the children don’t want to be in a situation. But they are forced to be in a situation. You get killed or you must go kill,” she said.

7:25 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Meghan will give away some of Archie’s toys during tour of South Africa

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex greets the public at the public walkabout at the Rotorua Government Gardens on October 31, 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex greets the public at the public walkabout at the Rotorua Government Gardens on October 31, 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand. Michael Bradley/Pool/Getty Images

The Duchess of Sussex has brought some of the many gifts and toys given to baby Archie to donate to babies and children in need during her visit to South Africa this week, a royal source has told CNN.

7:27 a.m. ET, September 23, 2019

Why are the Sussexes in South Africa?

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex watch students play football during their visit to Morocco on February 24, 2019.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex watch students play football during their visit to Morocco on February 24, 2019. Facundo Arrizabalaga/Getty Images

Harry and Meghan's trip to South Africa will "celebrate" the relationship the country has with the UK, British High Commissioner Nigel Casey said ahead of the royal couple's arrival in Cape Town on Monday.

The royals are on a 10-day tour in southern Africa that will see them visit Cape Town together before Harry continues on to Botswana, Angola and Malawi for additional engagements.

Meghan and Archie will only visit South Africa. They will be reunited with Harry in Johannesburg upon his return from Malawi.

"Visits like this play can important part in celebrating, sustaining and renewing what is a dynamic, modern relationship between the UK and South Africa," Casey said. "The UK has also historically been a leading investor in South Africa and we are determined to do all we can to sustain that."

"But the real strength of this relationship lies in people," Casey added. "430,000 Brits visit South Africa every year -- more than from any other country -- spending over 500 million pounds here a year, and thus making a big direct contribution to the South African economy.

"We estimate some 200,000 British passport holders live and work in South Africa playing a big role in the economy and society. So this visit is going to reflect and celebrate those people-to-people links."

The diplomat added that the trip was "an opportunity to shine a light on some of the issues close to the hearts of the Duke and Duchess, and of real importance to South Africans."

"It will also be a chance to underline the strength and continuity of our royal family's ties to South Africa and in particular to recall the warm and special relationship between Her Majesty the Queen and the late President Mandela," he said.