South Africa's State-owned logistics firm Transnet said on Sunday its petroleum pipeline in Durban has been shut down after a fire that broke out nearby in a botched fuel theft attempt in which three people died.
Further investigations were ongoing, Transnet said.
"The Transnet Pipelines National Operations Centre immediately shut down the pipeline and activated the emergency response plan," the company said in a statement.
"Remediation work and business continuity management processes have been activated. The current focus is to extinguish the fire and minimise the impact on the community and environment."
Transnet said three people died in the attempted fuel theft incident. A company spokesperson said the deceased were not Transnet employees.
The company said there has been an unprecedented spate of fuel theft incidents on its pipelines and the associated infrastructure during the last two years.
"Due to the inherent dangers of tampering with high pressure petroleum pipelines, these incidents have resulted in fire and other asset damage, as well as environmental incidents, with high remediation costs," Transnet said.
"We continue to work with law enforcement agencies to stop this criminal activity and keep the pipelines and surrounding communities safe."