Four miners were shot and injured yesterday, apparently by security guards using rubber bullets, at a gold mine owned by the South African president Jacob Zuma's nephew and a grandson of Nelson Mandela.
The shooting comes after firebrand politician Julius Malema visited the Aurora gold mine last week and told fired mineworkers that he was going to make South African mines ungovernable. Police spokeswoman Pinky Tsinyane said four miners were shot and that police have arrested four people for public violence.
Two weeks ago, police killed 34 striking miners at a platinum mine. The 270 miners arrested at the scene of that mass shooting north-west of Johannesburg were due to start being released yesterday after the government decided to review the charges, which sparked widespread public anger. Nobody from the South African police, or the company that owns the mine, London-listed Lonmin, has so far been censured.
"The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formally withdrawn provisionally in court on their next court appearance," said Nomgcobo Jiba, the acting national director of prosecutions. It is believed that all of the miners will be freed by Thursday, once their addresses have been verified by court officials.
The arrests caused anger at the highest level of the South African government, with the country's justice minister questioning the move by South African prosecutors.