Severe downpours across KwaZulu-Natal have had tragic consequences overnight. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - The University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Mangosuthu University of Technology have been closed in the aftermath of the fierce storms that battered Durban on Monday night. Several schools in the city have also been closed as the Department of Education calls on parents to exercise caution in the wake of the storm.

In a statement to staff and students, the University of KwaZulu-Natal said it had suspended the academic programme due to inclement weather.

“Staff are urged to exercise caution and use own judgement when traveling as reports have confirmed that most roads in Durban have been damaged due to heavy rains,” said university spokesperson Normah Zondo.

At the Mangosuthu University of Technology, the university took to Facebook to announce the institution had closed for the day. Videos showed the university being flooded severely in some areas, with a laboratory covered in water.

“To students and stakeholders, please note that executive management has taken the decision to shut down the university today due to the weather conditions in the interest of your safety,” the MUT said on Facebook.

Mangosuthu University of Technology.

Kwazi Mthethwa, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, said they had received reports of at least 5 schools that had been damaged in the storm, especially in the Southern Durban area. Mthethwa said the department was still awaiting a comprehensive briefing from the provincial disaster management team, but in the interim, urged parents to exercise caution in the best interest of the pupils.

“The safety of the learners always comes first, we cannot insist that children must go to school when the weather does not allow. We urge parents to have the foresight to keep children at home if going to school will put them at risk,” said Mthethwa.

Robert McKenzie, a spokesperson for the KZN Emergency Medical Services, urged people to stay at home and avoid traveling if they could. He also urged people to stop sending hoax messages from previous storms as it was a waste of the rescuers time.

“People are urged to not go outside unless they really have to,” he said.

Meanwhile, eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede was expected to brief the media on Tuesday. Durban's emergency services are under massive pressure attending to flood-related emergencies, however, this pressure is being exacerbated by people who are insisting on driving and getting themselves into unsafe situations.

“I urge residents not to enter fast flowing streams both in cars and as pedestrians. Many of our roads are flooded and some of the structures have been damaged. If possible, I would like to advise members of the public to stay off the roads at this stage,” said Gumede.

The municipality said the following roads were affected:

- Higgins highway /M1 at Bayview turn off westbound
- M4 Opposite Inkosi Albert Luthuli where it joins N2 by the old airport
- N2 Galleria
- N2 Prospecton
- Bul-Bul Road Chatsworth Bridge collapsed
- Clairwood Sirdar road
- Sarnia road- opposite Bellair SAPS
- Mangosuthu highway in the vicinity of Megacity
- Somtseu and Stanger road
- M25 between Das Road
- Stapleton Road is closed
- M19 before N2 off-ramp is closed

Sunday Tribune