SOME of Durban’s most popular beaches may still be closed at the beginning of the city’s most profitable season after heavy storms and rough seas last week damaged shark nets, forcing the Ethekwini municipality to close them for safety.

Many beaches in Durban and surrounding areas were closed off to bathers and surfers on Monday and would remain so at least until the end of November, Ethekwini’s head of parks and recreation, Themba Ngcobo, said on Monday. The municipality was still assessing the damage, and the beaches would be opened as and when the repairs were completed.

"We had to take this decision to close the beaches to assess and fix the damage," Mr Ngcobo said. "We have called on the Sharks Board to help us repair the nets.

"In cases where this is done quickly, we will open those beaches and close those where work is still under way. "We don’t know how long this would take but we will be working very hard to ensure that these beaches are open by the start of the holiday season."

Some of the affected beaches include Scottburgh, Umgababa, Karridene, Warner Beach, Isipingo, Umdloti, Ethekwini Country Club and Westbrook.

Mr Ngcobo said only Umhlanga Beach, north of Durban, and Amanzimtoti and Winkelspruit in the south, would remain open during this time.

Patricia Adenis, a supervisor at Wimpy on the Durban beach front, said the staff at the restaurant were worried because they thought it would affect their shifts and tips. "We’ve seen that the storms have badly damaged the infrastructure at the beach.

"We are hoping that they will fix it as soon as possible."

Charles Preece, spokesman for the east coast region of the Federated Hospitality Association of SA, urged Ethekwini officials to do their utmost to clean and open the beaches as soon as possible. "The beaches are vital to the tourism sector.

"Many people visit the sea and they want to chill on the beach and have a swim. We have not seen any cancellation of trips yet and we are hoping and praying that the beaches will be open in time for the holiday season."