Harry and Meghan make first official tour as family in Africa

Africa Royals Visit

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, along with their infant son, Archie, are making their first official tour as a family, starting Monday in a troubled South Africa whose president says women and children are "under siege" by shocking violence.

South Africa is still shaken by the rape and murder of a university student, carried out in a post office, that sparked protests by thousands of women tired of abuse and impunity in a country where more than 100 rapes are reported every day. This is "one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman," President Cyril Ramaphosa said Wednesday.

Empowering women is one of the issues Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, will address on a 10-day, multi-country visit, along with wildlife protection, entrepreneurship, mental health and mine clearance — a topic given global attention by Harry's late mother, Princess Diana, when she walked through an active mine field during an Africa visit years ago.

Some in South Africa say they are happy to see the arrival of Meghan, who has been vocal about women's rights and is likely to speak out again. One of her first events is a visit to a workshop that gives self-defence classes to young girls.

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NAIROBI, KENYA - NOVEMBER 21: The Queen On A Walkabout In Nairobi During An Official Tour Of Kenya. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh with Treetops guard-guide Dick Prickett at Treetops Hotel, Aberdare National Park, Kenya. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
KENYA - NOVEMBER 12: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, waves from an open top Mercedes on November 12, 1983 in Kenya. Queen Elizabeth II And Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are on a royal tour of Kenya. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
KENYA - NOVEMBER 12: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, receives a gift on November 12, 1983 in Kenya. Queen Elizabeth II And Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are on a Royal Tour of Kenya. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
The motorcade taking Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to the city from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. (Photo by Ron Bell/PA Images via Getty Images)
NAIROBI - NOVEMBER 13: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are shown around the 'Treetops' hotel by Richard Prickett on November 13, 1983 near Sagana in Kenya. It was thirty two years beforehand that the Queen had been staying at 'Treetops' when she learnt of her father's death and that she had become monarch. This return was a part of a 'Royal Tour' of Kenya. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
NAIROBI, KENYA - NOVEMBER 13: Queen Elizabeth ll, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Andrew, Duke of York visit the Treetops Hotel on November 13, 1983 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Queen had been staying there 30 years before when she learnt of the death of her father. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Guard of Honour at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Photo by Ron Bell/PA Images via Getty Images)
NAIROBI - NOVEMBER 13: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are shown around the 'Treetops' hotel by Richard Prickett on November 13, 1983 near Sagana in Kenya. It was thirty two years beforehand that the Queen had been staying at 'Treetops' when she learnt of her father's death and that she had become monarch. This return was a part of a 'Royal Tour' of Kenya. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
Prince Harry visiting a crime scene, with a forensic team, of a rhino killed by poachers in Kruger National Park as part of his tour to South Africa.
NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT Prince Harry visiting a crime scene with a forensic team of a rhino killed by poachers in Kruger National Parkas part of his tour to South Africa.
NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT Prince Harry visiting a crime scene with a forensic team of a rhino killed by poachers in Kruger National Parkas part of his tour to South Africa.
Princes William and Prince Harry play with young patients while visiting the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.
Britain's Prince Harry, right, is presented with a specially embroidered traditional blanket, by Lesotho's Prince Seeiso, before visiting a school for local herd boys opened by Sentebale, a charity for disadvantaged Lesotho youngsters, co-founded by the two Princes, in the remote village of Semongkong, Lesotho.
Britain's Prince Harry, right, is presented with a specially embroidered traditional blanket, by Lesotho's Prince Seeiso, before visiting a school for local herd boys opened by Sentebale, a charity for disadvantaged Lesotho youngsters, co-founded by the two Princes, in the remote village of Semongkong, Lesotho.
Prince William and Prince Harry visit Semongkong Children's Centre in Lesotho.
Prince William chats to children as he and Prince Harry visit Semongkong Children's Centre in Lesotho.
Prince William and Prince Harry arrive on horseback to visit Semongkong Children's Centre in Lesotho.
Prince William strokes a dog as he and Prince Harry visit Semongkong Children's Centre in Lesotho.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Kenya's President Jomo Kenyatta, right, wave to the crowd in Nairobi ,Kenya, March 26, 1972. Kenyatta welcomed the royal couple to Nairobi, the last stop on the Queen's tour before returning to Britain. Prince Philip is to remain in the African nation for another week. ( AP Photo/ Peter Winterbach )
U.S. Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall, left, talks to game warden holding a baby buck, as Udall visits the Queen Elizabeth National Park at Kampala, Uganda, Africa on Sept. 7, 1963. The U.S. official is on 10-day tour of Uganda, Tanganyika and Kenya. Man at center is unidentified. (AP Photo)
Britain's King George VI, left, with his wife Queen Elizabeth, second right, and their younger daughter Princess Margaret cross the tarmac at London Airport, on Jan. 31, 1952, to say farewell to Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh at the start of their 30,000 mile tour of Kenya, Ceylon, Australia and New Zealand. (AP Photo)
Colonel Mervyn Cowie opens the visitors book for Princess Elizabeth and the Duke Of Edinburgh to sign as they arrive at Nairobi National Park to start a car tour, Feb. 2, 1952. The royal tourists saw much of the wild life in the park, including a lion devouring his kill, some 10 yards from the car. Prince Philip is seen talking to Mitzie, daughter of Colonel Cowie. (AP Photo)
President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya speaking at a State banquet in Nairobi, during the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
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"I think the Duchess of Sussex' visit is perfectly timed. She's coming to South Africa at an incredibly turbulent time," said Lara Rosmarin, who leads a local tech incubator that will be part of the royal visit. "People are anxious, people are scared, people are worried ... She's coming at a time when she can instill some hope and some promise and perhaps highlight the struggles of women in South Africa."

The high-profile visit by the royal family is expected to contrast with the breathtaking series of stories in local media in recent weeks about the reported abuse of women and children — "even babies," the president reminded Parliament this week.

The scope is now well known. More than 2,700 women were murdered last year, and more than 1,000 children, the government says. One in five women over age 18 have faced physical violence from a partner.

"The conviction rate for rape is a shameful 5%," the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, said Wednesday. The state should oppose bail for suspects, deny parole to those found guilty and ensure that a life sentence means life in prison, South Africa's president now says.

Some women want more, saying South Africa should bring back the death penalty for rapists. Capital punishment was abolished in the country in 1995.

Despite the recent unrest, the royal family likely will focus on the positive. Planned events in their first public stop, Cape Town, include a visit to a non-governmental group that trains surfers to provide young people with mental health services.

"She is a very influential person and just for her to be here and to some way influence the girls on our program ... is a big part of why we're excited to have her here," said Courtney Barnes, a surfing coach with Waves For Change.

Harry and Meghan also will visit the oldest mosque in South Africa and meet with Nobel Peace Prize winner and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A "rare privilege and honour," Tutu and his wife, Leah, said Thursday.

The prince later will break away for visits to Botswana, Angola and Malawi with a special focus on wildlife protection.

In Angola, Harry will walk in the footsteps of his mother, whose steps across a mine field in 1997 helped to inspire an international ban on anti-personnel mines later that year. That field in Huambo is now a busy street, and Angola's government, now years past a grinding civil war, hopes to be free of land mines by 2025.

The southern African nation is now turning toward ecotourism.

Meghan will remain in South Africa with events including a Johannesburg visit to a charity that helps to raise awareness of sexual violence in schools.

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