Two men stole a hearse with a corpse in it and hopped from shebeen to shebeen in Soweto on a drinking spree at the weekend.

They were caught after the vehicle ran out of petrol in the early hours of yesterday morning. They got stuck in Freedom Park informal settlement, near Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, at about 3am.

The already drunk men went into a shebeen where they met three women. They asked the women to help push the car to the nearest petrol station.

They told the women the corpse in the coffin belonged to a relative and that they were on their way to bury it at Avalon Cemetery.

The women were shocked to hear there was a dead body in the car and called a member of the Community Policing Forum (CPF) who lives nearby.

"They failed to show us papers identifying whose corpse it was, and they appeared to be drunk," said John Dlomo, a CPF member.

He said the men confessed to stealing the vehicle in Mofolo and using it to hop from tavern to tavern to go drinking.

"They told us they had decided they would dump the corpse somewhere along the way, but had not decided what they would do with the car," said Dlomo.

Dlomo said the residents used their waist belts to tie the thieves to the car and called the police.

The driver of the hearse, Siphiwo Mkhize, said he had parked outside his house to fetch money for petrol, but when he came out the vehicle had disappeared.

"It is a shocking thing to realise there are people who could steal a hearse with a dead person inside. Going shebeen hopping with a corpse takes the cake. What kind of people are these?" asked Mkhize.

Undertakers removed the body from the hearse and took it back to the company' s mortuary.