Cult member’s shooting probed

Johannesburg – It would be premature to treat Monday’s shooting of a Falun Gong practitioner as an assassination attempt, Senior Superintendent Selby Bokaba said on Wednesday.

Bokaba was reacting to a claim that the Chinese government was behind the shooting of Falun Gong practitioner David Liang as he and four colleagues travelled to their hotel on Monday.

“We are investigating attempted murder. It would be premature to call it an assassination,” Bokaba said.

Johannesburg’s serious and violent crimes unit would send an interpreter to the men to obtain further details. So far all that was known was that the five men arrived in Johannesburg from Australia on Monday.

They were on their way to the Formula One Hotel in Pretoria where they planned to stage protests against the visit of Chinese vice-president Zeng Qinghong and his minister of commerce Bo Xilai for alleged human rights abuses.

On the way from Johannesburg International Airport, instead of taking the N1 north to Pretoria, they took the N1 south to Bloemfontein and at Nasrec a passing motorist fired shots out of a vehicle, wounding one occupant, Bokaba said.

The interpreter would visit the men on Wednesday morning.

A Falun Gong spokesperson, Leon Wang, told Sapa they were fired at by “four or five” men and when their car was forced to stop from a puncture, “the men just stopped their car and stared at us”.

Banned as ‘evil cult’

“They were armed and could have robbed us, but they didn’t. We believe they were sent by the Chinese vice-president,” Wang said. “When we first arrived in South Africa, we didn’t have enemies.”

Wang said the group came to South Africa as part of their strategy of launching international human rights law suits against the Chinese vice-president.

According to the organisation’s website, they have targeted the two officials because of their role in the alleged persecution of the movement.

The movement has been banned in China as an “evil cult” since 1999 and once claimed millions of followers on the mainland.

Wang said that they were taken to the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital by a Good Samaritan and that their colleague was receiving treatment for gunshot wounds to his feet.

The Chinese embassy said that a meeting was under way to discuss the matter and so could not comment immediately.

Edited by Tisha Steyn

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South African Press Association
June 30, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday June 30, 2004.
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