Protesters in Embalenhle, Mpumalanga, on Monday looted Somalian shops and burned down municipal buildings during an ongoing service delivery protest.
A group of people had started by closing down roads and stoning the main municipal building on Sunday, said police spokesperson Captain Magonseni Nkosi.
They had also set alight two vehicles that were driving past the protest.
"It all started as a community meeting where residents spoke of their challenges but before we know it, they had already divided themselves into groups and scattered to various places."
On Monday morning, the protesters returned to finish what they started by burning down the main municipal office and its branch, said Nkosi.
"They have burned down both municipal offices in Embalenlhe and proceeded to burn a business joint owned by a former municipal manager."
Municipal vehicles and passing vehicles were also set alight.
"What the protesters are doing is considered a criminal activity hence the police are working timeously to ensure that criminal perpetrators are incarcerated."
He said several arrests had been made but the exact figure was still being confirmed.
Motorists were asked to refrain from driving in the affected area.
"We are currently trying to keep the situation under control even though it is not easy. It is upsetting that in the midst of the protest, some people take advantage of looting other people's businesses."