Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)The shooting of two Zimbabwean workers by a Chinese boss shows the "systematic and widespread" abuse that locals face in Chinese mining operations, says the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Society (ZELA).
Shooting of Zimbabwe workers by Chinese mine owner shows 'systemic' abuse, watchdog says
In a court affidavit, police said Zhang Xuen shot an employee five times and wounded another at the mine he runs in Gweru province, in central Zimbabwe, during a row with workers over outstanding pay.
Zhang has been charged with attempted murder, said Zimbabwe police spokesman Paul Nyathi.
According to local media reports, Zhang did not enter a plea because there was no approved interpreter in court. He will remain in custody until at least July 7, the report said.
The shooting happened on Sunday morning, when miner Kenneth Tachiona confronted Zhang after he allegedly refused to pay his wages in US dollars, as agreed, according to the affidavit.
Tachiona charged toward Zhang, who then drew his gun, shooting the worker three times on his right thigh and twice on the left, according to the affidavit.
Police said Zhang fired another shot at workers, and one of the bullets grazed the chin of a member of staff. The wounded workers are being treated at a private hospital.
A video that many alleged to be of the incident has circulated on social media in Zimbabwe, provoking public anger and calls from a local watchdog for a re-evaluation of Chinese mining operations in the country.
The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe described the shooting as an isolated incident and said it was in support of an open and transparent probe by local authorities.
"Any possible illegal acts and persons who violate the law should not be shielded. China and Zimbabwe have a long-standing friendship and cooperation. We call upon all relevant sides to safeguard it jealousy and carefully," the Chinese Embassy said in a statement on Twitter.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry told CNN: "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.
"We respect Zimbabwe's handling of the case in accordance with law, but at the same time hope to see Zimbabwe protect the safety as well as legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals. There is traditional friendship between the two countries and we believe both sides will be able to properly handle this case."
China is Zimbabwe's largest foreign investor with significant interests in the country's extractive sector.
Last year, Chinese firm Tsignchan signed