Business owners are counting losses totalling millions of rand following massive looting of shops as people calling for the release of former president Jacob Zuma invaded businesses overnight.

Clothing, liquor and furniture shops in the small towns on the north of KwaZulu-Natal, including Eshowe, were left dry by looters.

Looters run amok in KZN – Jayed-Leigh Paulse reports live from the scene:

The looters disregarded warning shots fired in the air by police and security guards.

Some people loaded the stolen items into their cars, while others had trolleys full of liquor and clothes.

Some shop owners decided to guard their shops on their own to protect the little stock left.

“They smashed all my windows and looted all the booze out it becoming criminal now, it not what they wanted, the cost is between R200 000 and R250 000 may be I am not sure. If they were fighting for something they wanted they would just be blocking the roads now they just stealing all the liquor it just becoming criminality now, it the criminal element,” one business owner told SABC News.

There has also been looting reported in some parts of Gauteng, including at the Dobsonville Mall in Soweto.

Authorities have urged calm and restraint, warning that lawbreakers will be arrested and prosecuted.