Durban - Several schools across KwaZulu-Natal have remained closed for a second day in the wake of devastating floods.
"The weather also affected the delivery of education as several learners had to remain at home as we had to close their schools either because they were damaged, or because access was severely inhibited. More than 140 schools are affected so far by the flooding incidents," said KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala.
He said 40 learners and 12 teachers from the Tholulwazi High School in Molweni were trapped at school after they tried to cross a river. Zikalala said the roadway was also washed away by heavy rains.
"The Grade 12 learners and educators teaching Grade 12 had remained behind for extra tuition on this day," he said.
The premier said a meeting was called and helicopters were procured to bring resources to the trapped learners and teachers.
"This is one of many examples of the destructive effect of this inclement weather but also the extent to which provincial government will go to assist its citizens in need," he added.
He said in the meantime the province has activated seasonal contingency plans of sectors, province and municipalities to coordinate multi-sectoral response efforts.
"Coordination of efforts by all relevant stakeholders is under way focusing on damage assessments, relief and response measures to address the immediate needs from existing arrangements and programmes within affected organs of state across the spheres," he said.
KZN Education head of department, Nathi Ngcobo, said they were concerned about the teachers and learners.
"We are very relieved that the process of rescuing them has started and we thank God that there was no life lost during the ordeal. Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu, is equally relieved," he said.
Mshengu advised school principals, School Governing Bodies, parents and caregivers to use their discretion over sending children to school.
He said the department will monitor weather patterns and give further advice.
Meanwhile, some learners have been sent home after their schools reported no water and no electricity. Parents said while their children attended school on Wednesday, they were called to collect them by 10am. A parent said he could not send his daughter and son to school because some school structures had been damaged.