Three people have died in an early morning fire in an abandoned building in Jeppestown in Johannesburg. 

Police spokesman captain Mavela Masondo said on Sunday afternoon that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined and that an inquest docket has been opened. 

People were squatting in the building, which Masondo said was an abandoned building. The deceased were two males and one female.

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While onlookers was watching the building burn in the early hours of Sunday morning "some of the criminals that were there took advantage", Masondo said. 

This resulted in nearby shops, which were still closed, being "attacked" and looted. 

One car was also torched in the process, while two were damaged and another building set on fire. 

Masondo did not want to speculate as to what the motive of the looting and damage to property was, and said it was merely "criminality".

Four people had been arrested as a result of the chaos which ensued on Sunday and charged with among others possession of suspected stolen property.