Two supervisors were arrested at Mthatha's Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in connection with theft of diesel from the hospital's emergency generator, the Eastern Cape health department said.
Spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said both supervisors worked in the hospital's maintenance section.
One, a woman, had let the other, a man, into the locked generator room, where he had already drained off 120litres of fuel when he was discovered by an alert security guard at 2am yesterday.
The guard summoned the police, and the two were arrested. They would appear in court, and would also face internal disciplinary action, Kupelo said.
He said the attempted theft was potentially very serious as the hospital depended on the generator when there were power cuts.
"If there was a power outage we would have lost lives," he said. - Sapa