Johannesburg - Petrol thieves caused a fuel spillage on a road in Alberton, south of Johannesburg, on Wednesday, Gauteng traffic police said.

“It is alleged criminals... tried to steal petrol from the pipelines which led [to] the spillage leaving the entire Old Vereeniging road unsafe,” spokesman Obed Sibasa said in a statement.

It appeared that thieves dug up the underground pipeline and broke through it, causing the fuel to spill out over a large area.

No one had been arrested by 8.30am.

“Motorists and road users are warned of traffic disruptions because of the closure of Old Vereeniging Road between Klipriver Road and JG Strydom [Road] in Alrode.”

Residents in the vicinity were asked not to make fires. Motorists were advised to use the R59 as an alternative.

“Authorities are concerned that the petrol might catch fire.”

Police and emergency services were on the scene.

An extensive mop up operation was underway, which involved the use of a powder-like substance to neutralise the flammable liquid. - Sapa