Retail Centers Looted, 200 Rioters Arrested After Ex South African Leader's Imprisonment

South Africa saw retail centers looted in and around Johannesburg as more than 200 rioters were arrested after former South African President Jacob Zuma's imprisonment.

Riots ignited in the KwaZulu-Natal province and spread to Gauteng province, home to Johannesburg, following Zuma's jailing for contempt of court last week, the Associated Press reported. The chaos has since escalated as police announced the arrests Monday alongside at least six deaths when numerous Johannesburg shopping centers were targeted by looters in areas including Benmore, Jeppestown, Vosloorus and Soweto.

Clothes, kitchen appliances and television sets were stolen from stores in the KwaZulu-Natal province in the Mariannhill and Umlazi regions. Stores east of Johannesburg shut down amid the riots as shopping areas in Alexandra were also looted.

Zuma is serving a 15-month prison term after previously resisting an order to testify in court for corruption allegations during his presidency from 2009 to 2018.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Shopping Center Looted in South Africa
Retail centers were looted in South Africa and more than 200 rioters were arrested following former South African President Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment. In this photo, South African Police Services (SAPS) members arrest a looter at the Gold Spot Shopping Centre in Vosloorus, southeast of Johannesburg, on Monday. Guillem Sartorio/AFP via Getty Images

Rioting caused major roads to be blocked by burning tires and the police and military struggled to contain the violence.

What began as fairly small-scale blocking of roads in Zuma's home area intensified and spread to Gauteng, South Africa's most populous province, including Johannesburg, the country's largest city.

Soldiers have been deployed to help the police. President Cyril Ramaphosa was to address the nation later Monday. He appealed for calm Sunday night and vowed that police would crack down on those breaking the law, but the riots worsened Monday.

The Jabulani and Dobsonville malls were hit by looters.

Journalists covering the riots for the public South African Broadcasting Corporation and news channel Newzroom Afrika were robbed of their equipment.

A major mall and car dealerships around the affluent Rosebank area closed as protesters were reported in the area. Retail centers in Kempton Park also closed Monday.

Zuma defied a court order to testify before a state-backed inquiry probing allegations of corruption.

The Constitutional Court, the country's highest court, was to begin hearing Zuma's appeal on Monday.

Police were investigating the deaths—four in Gauteng and two in KwaZulu-Natal, said police Col. Brenda Muridili. The police and national security forces expanded their presence in both provinces to help quell the violence, authorities said.

Police have warned that anyone using social media to encourage rioting may be arrested and prosecuted.

Body Covered Following Protests in South Africa
President Cyril Ramaphosa appealed for calm Sunday night and vowed police would crack down on those breaking the law. A couple walks past a body covered with a blanket after protests in the area, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sunday. Themba Hadebe/AP Photo