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Miners, officers clash at South African mine

From Nkepile Mabuse, CNN
updated 8:41 PM EDT, Mon September 3, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 47 miners arrested in August incident area released
  • Four people are injured in a clash outside South African mine
  • The clash is the second episode of violence at a South African mine since August 16

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) -- Four people were wounded, one critically, when violence erupted Monday between protesters and security officers outside a South African mine, police said.

The outbreak at the Modder East gold mine in Springs, South Africa, follows a deadly clash between police and striking workers at a different mine on August 16. In that incident, at the Lonmin PLC platinum mine in Marikana, 34 people died.

On Monday, a judge released 47 of the 270 miners detained in that incident.

Monday's clash at Gold One's Modder East Mine occurred after former employees staged a protest outside the mine's gates, Johannesburg police Capt. Pinky Tsinyane said.

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Protesters threw rocks at vehicles trying to enter the mine complex about 24 miles (38 kilometers) east of Johannesburg and refused orders to disperse, Gold One said in a statement. Officers intervened with rubber bullets and tear gas, Gold One said.

The company said the officers were from the South African Police Service. Tsinyane said the officers were employed by the mine.

The protesters had been fired for participating in an earlier illegal strike, the company said.

The violence echoed the August 17 confrontation between police and striking miners 65 miles (105 kilometers) to the northwest at the Marikana mine.

In that incident, police fired on miners after the workers' negotiations with the mine's owner broke down. Thirty-four were killed and 78 wounded, sparking national outrage.

More: What's behind the Marikana massacre?

Last week, a regional prosecutor charged the miners with murder, but a national prosecutor said Sunday that authorities would dismiss the provisional charges and release the miners pending further investigation.

On Monday, 47 of the miners appeared in Garankuwa Magistrates Court just outside the capital of Pretoria and were ordered released. More were expected to be released later in the day.

Some of the arrested miners were scheduled to appear in court Monday, in part to have those charges dismissed. Others are expected to appear in court on Thursday.

Lawyers for the miners had called last week's decision to charge them with murder "bizarre in the extreme." The country's justice minister called the charges shocking and confusing.

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