Midlands Bureau Chief
THE court case involving a Chinese national who allegedly shot two employees following a salary dispute failed to kick off as there was no certified Chinese interpreter.
Appearing briefly before provincial magistrate Mr Edwin Marecha was Zhang Xuelin (50) facing two counts of attempted murder.
Xuelin, a manager at Reden Mine in Shamrock Park in Gweru did not plead to the charges because the State said a certified interpreter will only be available at the next court date.
The mine manager who allegedly shot one of his employees, Mr Kenneth Tachiona three times on both thighs while another employee Mr Wendy Chikwaira had his chin grazed by a bullet, was remanded in custody to July 7.
On the first count, prosecutor, Mr Fredrick Macheza said on Sunday morning, the complainant, Mr Tachiona was among 30 Reden Mine employees who were gathered at the mine premises following a pay dispute with their employer.
The court heard that the employees were demanding to be paid in United State dollars while Xuelin insisted on paying them in local currency.
The court heard that this did not go down well with the employees and this resulted in a demonstration.
The employees led by Mr Tachiona then allegedly charged towards the accused person who then fired two warning shots in the air but the group continued charging at him, the court heard.
Mr Macheza said the accused allegedly then used the company’s FN pistol he was in possession of to shoot Mr Tachiona three times on both legs and he fell to the ground.
On the second count, the court heard that Xuelin allegedly shot at the group of employees and a bullet grazed through the chin of Mr Chikwaira.
Mr Tachiona is still admitted in hospital while Mr Chikwaira was treated and discharged.
A report was made to the police leading to arrest of Xuelin.
On Monday, Chinese Embassy and Reden Mine yesterday met families of the two men who were shot and the company said it would compensate them and pay medical costs.
The Chinese embassy said the isolated incident must not affect the good relations between Zimbabwe and China.
Reden Mining Company has issued an apology following the incident and pledged to compensate the victims and their immediate families.
“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 behaviour of us all as the Chinese community,” the company said in a statement.
It said information at hand indicates that the employees who had their contracts terminated demanded cash upfront upon dismissal. They allegedly forced their entry into the mine premises and charged towards the company manager soon after they disarmed a security detail who was manning the gate.
“The mine manager who is still in police cells fired two shots in the air but the employees continued to charge towards him. Out of fear he shot the victim on the ankle. Meanwhile, we as the Chinese community are helping the injured who is in stable condition at a private hospital. Apart from footing the hospital bills, we are also assisting his family during this difficult period,” added the company.
The Chinese Embassy said the incident should not derail existing cordial relations.
“We are highly concerned about the case in which a Chinese employee of a private Chinese company near Gweru shot and injured a local employee due to a wage dispute yesterday. Although this is an isolated incident and the embassy has no law enforcement authority over the enterprise, we firmly support Zimbabwe’s law enforcement agencies to transparently and openly investigate and handle the case in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe,” the Embassy said in a statement.
“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.”