Court officials in Zimbabwe say eight nurses arrested on allegations of inciting violent protests against the firing of a popular Canadian doctor from a church mission hospital have been allowed to return to their positions.

Officials said Thursday the nurses and 12 other villagers accused of staging the protests at the Salvation Army Howard Hospital, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Harare, are to reappear in a provincial court on Sept. 24 on charges carrying a penalty of imprisonment or a fine.

Police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters at the hospital on Aug. 17 demanding the reinstatement of Canadian Dr. Paul Thistle, fired by the Salvation Army for criticizing local church leaders.

The nurses had been barred at an earlier bail hearing from returning to the mission.