Two unknown suspects went off the rails on Friday night and stole an empty passenger train before driving it from eMkhomazi to Umgababa in KwaZulu-Natal - a distance of 12km.
Passenger Rail Agency Agency of SA (Prasa) spokesperson Zama Nomnganga confirmed the incident to News24, saying that Prasa's security officials were investigating the incident.
"The train was taken by unauthorised persons. They are not employees of Prasa."
Nomnganga said he was surprised when he learnt of this because operating a train is a specialised procedure.
"It is still being investigated - we don't know who they are. What they did was very dangerous; they could have collided or derailed the train, or damaged our points."
According to IOL, the suspects allegedly drove the train to Umgababa, and when it stopped, they jumped out and fled into a nearby forest while security guards pursued them.
Another employee reportedly said she believed those behind the train theft were whoonga (a street drug) addicts.
"I thought I had seen it all in my career, but no. While we were busy working on other trains, two drug addicts stole one train that was staged and drove it from eMkhomazi all the way to Umgababa - an entire train," the employee reportedly said.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane told News24 he could not confirm the incident because a case had not been opened.