June 29 2004 at 07:21PM

Johannesburg - A Chinese man was shot and injured on Monday afternoon shortly after arriving in Johannesburg from Australia to protest against the South African visit of Chinese vice president Zeng Qinghong, police said on Tuesday.

Senior Superintendent Selby Bokaba, spokesperson for the Office of the National Commissioner of Police, could not confirm reports that Jillin Liang who was admitted to Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, and his four companions were members of the Falungong movement.


Bokaba confirmed that the five had come to South Africa to protest against what they called "Chinese intolerance and abuse".

"They were on their way to their hotel in Pretoria and got lost. Instead of taking the N1 they took the M1 South towards Bloemfontein. At Nasrec, an unknown motorist shot at the car, wounding one of them in both legs."

Liang is in a serious condition. Bokaba could not offer further details.

"We are investigating and we need to talk to all the occupants of the car."

He could not say what nationalities the five held but confirmed that they were of Chinese ethnicity.

AFP reports that the movement issued a media statement on the Internet on Tuesday, saying their members went to South Africa to protest against the "persecution of Falungong" by Vice President Zeng and his Minister of Commerce, Bo Xilai, who arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday and are scheduled to depart late on Tuesday.

"They (the Falungong members) intended to hold a press conference to expose the crimes of the two officials and to have legal papers served against them," the Falun Data Information Centre said.

"The shooting was a premeditated action specifically targeting Falungong during the two officials visit," the organization said.

- Sapa-AFP