While I'm on the other side of country in Cape Town, I'm from South Africa and this is indeed sad. Both are really at fault here, but things shouldn't have escalated to this. Hopefully lessons will be learned to prevent more instances of this.
Protests are common in South Africa and are always handled in a better way with rubber bullets and other tactics. It seems that panic was the order of the day and thus live ammunition was fired.
It's worth noting that there is a backstory to this, where protesters wielding machetes and other dangerous weapons had already killed other innocent workers because they didn't want to join them in their "fight". A police officer was also killed a few days before, and his gun was apparently among those weapons used by protesters who fired upon police officers.
But yeah, I have seen several other non-lethal tactics work and result in a much better outcome than what had happened here. Much like the Times Square shooting, if officers had non-lethal weapons with them, things would have turned out differently. Instead it was decided that they should have live ammunition.
This post has been edited by Adriaan on Friday, Aug 17 2012, 21:27