A Chinese national in Zimbabwe has been charged with attempted murder after shooting an employee five times and wounded another during a standoff with workers over outstanding salaries.
Zhang Xuen, according to local media reports, shot Kenneth Tachiona on both thighs with Wendy Chikwaira also having his chin grazed by a bullet.
Xuen, who is a manager at Reden Mine in Shamrock in Gweru, the capital of Midlands Province of Zimbabwe did not plead to the charges due to lack of certified interpreter when he appeared before the Gweru Magistrate court.
He was remanded in custody to July 7.
The Chronicle reports that Tachiona and Chikwaira were among 30 Reden mine workers protesting the payment mechanism being employed by the mining firm. They demanded to be paid in United State dollars but Xuen refused, insisting to remunerate them in the local currency, leading to a row and demonstrations on the company’s premises.
Angered by the workers’ resolve to ensure they are paid in United States dollars, Xuen who was in possession of a pistol during the chaos aimed at Tachiona and shot both thighs, prosecutors said.
The incident has led to huge public outrage. The country’s biggest labor representative body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, said there has been a history of Chinese nationals in Zimbabwe ill-treating their workers, VOA reports.
The outlet further reports that permission had been refused a group of protestors who wanted to stage a demonstration in Gweru over the incident.
In a statement, the company described the incident as regrettable with a pledge to fully compensate the victims and their families. It also apologized for the incident.
“As the Chinese community in Gweru, we deeply regret what transpired at Reden Mine in Gweru on Sunday 21 June 2020 when two company employees were unfortunately shot by one of the company managers following a pay dispute. What the manager did is his personal behavior and does not reflect the behavior of us all as the Chinese community,” the statement read.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry further told CNN that overall, Chinese companies in Zimbabwe have operated their businesses in accordance with local laws and regulations, and made positive contributions to Zimbabwe’s economic and social development.
The Chinese embassy expressed support to law enforcement agencies to “transparently and openly investigate and handle the case in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe.”
“Any possible illegal acts and persons who violate the law should not be shielded. China and Zimbabwe have long-standing friendship and cooperation. We call upon all relevant sides to safeguard it jealously and carefully.”
China is Zimbabwe’s largest foreign investor with major interests in the country’s extractive sector.