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.