A GOVERNMENT employee's body was found lying on a fuel tank from which he was allegedly trying to steal petrol.
Employees at a government department made the shocking discovery when they found their colleague dead on a fuel tank yesterday.
It is alleged that the man was trying to steal petrol from the department of transport, roads and works in Vereeniging when he was overcome by fumes.
The 38-year-old man is alleged to have siphoned off petrol from a tank into three containers.
Police spokesperson Captain Shado Mashobane said the employee was last seen on Wednesday afternoon and it was not known how he gained entry to the premises.
"According to his supervisor, he signed off at 4.30pm. From there nobody knows where he went and how he entered the workshop where the fuel was stored," Mashobane said.
Two containers filled with fuel and a third one that was half-filled were found next to the tank.
It is believed that the employee was filling the third container when he died. Police believe he died from suffocation.
"He could have inhaled petrol fumes because his head and right arm were inside the tank and his lower body was on top of the petrol container," Mashobane said.
He said paramedics who were called to the scene declared him dead on their arrival.
Police suspected that he could have entered the workshop through a window or had hidden himself there when his colleagues left after work. He was found in possession of a set of keys that unlocked the fuel tank. His colleagues said they were shocked by the discovery.
"We are relieved the thief who had been stealing fuel has been found. We were all suspects," said an employee.
Police have opened an inquest docket.