South African Lawmakers to Help Combat Anti-Immigrant Violence

South Africa’s Parliament suspended its proceedings for next week to enable lawmakers to return to their constituencies to help quell attacks directed against foreigners.

The lawmakers will “interact with communities and work with various stakeholders to discourage the violence and mobilize communities against xenophobia,” Stone Sizani, the chief whip for the ruling African National Congress, said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

Attacks directed against foreigners have claimed seven lives and driven thousands from their homes this month, the worst such violence in seven years. Some poor South Africans see immigrants as competitors for jobs and business opportunities in a country with a 24 percent unemployment rate.

The government deployed the army on April 21 to prevent further attacks, while President Jacob Zuma canceled a state visit to Indonesia to deal with the crisis. Parliament will set up a multiparty committee that will investigate the causes of the flare-up in violence and recommend measures to prevent a recurrence, Sizani said.

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