News 24 /Sapa, 19 June 2008

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The National Assembly task team set up to investigate the recent xenophobic attacks did not find any evidence suggesting that there was a third force involved, MPs heard on Thursday. Speaking during a joint sitting debate on the task team's report, ANC MP Obed Bapela - who had led a delegation of 19 MPs during the investigation - said there was no evidence corroborating allegations of a third force involvement. "The delegation raised the matter of a "third force" with the authorities and persons they interacted with during the visit. "However, no confirmation was received that such a force was perceived to exist," he said. The fact that the incidents occurred only in poor areas suggested that lack of service delivery could had been one of the main factors that caused the violence. "Characteristic of the violence in some areas is a lack of development, while in others there is a suspicion among some residents that they will be left out of the delivery of houses and services," Bapela said. Democratic Alliance MP Sheila Camerer questioned the rationale behind reintegrating displaced foreigners back to the communities without first addressing the causes of the attacks. "Will we not risk more violence by reintegrating them (displaced foreigners) back to communities," she asked. Lack of service delivery and a flawed immigration policy had created conditions for the attacks to take place, Camerer said. Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said the government had failed to prevent the attacks despite having been warned about them well in advance. "In the African Peer Review Report the government was seriously warned more than a year ago about xenophobia and racism in South Africa," he said. ANC deputy-president Kgalema Motlanthe urged political parties to refrain from using the attacks to score political points. "The attacks were tragic enough not to be used for purposes of point scoring." He said it was equally wrong to attribute the cause of the attacks to a single factor. "There is a convergence of factors which underlie the eruption of violence," he said.