Nkalemelo Latha was killed after being savaged by the lions at the Otavi Wildlife Sanctuary in Parys, Free State province, The Times reported.
The worker, whose name was given as “Rasta” is alleged to have stolen a set of keys, opened the enclosure and led the boy inside.
Staff at the park heard screaming and rushed to the child’s aid. One drove a pickup truck into the enclosure to chase the two white lions away.
But it was to no avail. The child was found lying unconscious on the ground having been bitten on his head and neck; he died shortly afterwards.
Rasta, who worked at the park for six months, is reported to have told the police that he tried to get help after the lioness attacked the boy and he was also mauled.
“I can’t understand why this man decided to steal the keys to get into the enclosure,” said Ina Human, the park manager.