DURBAN - A South African athlete nearly had his legs sawn off when he was attacked by a group of men while training in the early hours of Tuesday morning, media reports said.
Triathlete Mhlengi Gwala (26) reportedly offered his attackers his cellphone and money, but they pushed him down and tried to hack off his legs with a blunt chainsaw.
The incident was confirmed on Twitter by Gwala's fellow athlete, Henri Schoeman.
A friend of mine, cycling in the Durban area was robbed by three people this morning, Then they attempted to saw off both legs with a chainsaw. Blade too blunt and only got half way through one and started on the other. Absolutely disgusting! How safe are we on SA roads?— Henri Schoeman (@H_Schoeman) March 6, 2018
I wish all the best to @MhlengiGwala in his operation and road to recovery. We all stand behind you and support you as we need to make cycling safer on the roads in South Africa!— Henri Schoeman (@H_Schoeman) March 6, 2018
Gwala, who is seen as a very promising athlete, will be undergoing leg surgery.
Schoeman said there is a lot of damage to Gwala's nerves and tendons.
"We're all praying he'll make a full recovery... I just want to wish him the best recovery and we are all standing behind him. We also need to make a stand so that we can cycle safely here in South Africa because we all know it is very dangerous (for cyclists) at the moment," said Schoeman.
The motive for the attack is not known.
Many people expressed their shock and support on Twitter.
I’m Surprised black twitter is not outraged to what happened to Mhlengi Gwala. @tumisole please look up the story it’s really heartbreaking. ------------— Mukololo Khan (@NaVhugala) March 6, 2018
Last week Siyabonga Ngcobo was burnt to death in the boot of a car. This morning, Durban triathlete Mhlengi Gwala was attacked on a training ride; half his leg sawn off with a chainsaw. You have to wonder. You have to cry. You have to ask why. This can’t be life.— Lynette Ntuli (@MsNtuli) March 6, 2018
This is depraved human behaviour and makes me sick to my stomach?! Where in Dbn? What can we do? I honestly believe that we cannot just let this be something we let happen!— Annah Watkinson (@Annahbanana247) March 6, 2018
We are deeply saddened & shocked by the horrific attack today on one of our competitors. @MhlengiGwala was on his bike to work when he was robbed of his bike & attempted to amputate his legs. Our thoughts & prayers go to Mhlengi and his family. pic.twitter.com/noNKP6JDJj— Durban Ultra Tri (@DBNUltra) March 6, 2018
Thinking and praying for Mhlengi Gwala who was attacked by three people while out riding this morning.— Greg Stedman (@GregStedman) March 6, 2018
Attackers took a chain saw to his leg! -- He has suffered severe injury to his calf and tibia. #EnoughIsEnough pic.twitter.com/6hCy7dClQR
RT @MsNtuli: Last week Siyabonga Ngcobo was burnt to death in the boot of a car. This morning, Durban triathlete Mhlengi Gwala was attacked on a training ride; half his leg sawn off with a chainsaw. You have to wonder. You have to cry. You have to ask why. This can’t be life.— King Yo! (@MrsLeope) March 7, 2018
Our thoughts and prayers are with you @mhle. Horrified by the attack on you. Thank you to the medical team and @EADP_KZN @Tubz911 for all you did today. #TeamKZN @KZNDSRSA #MhlengiGwala pic.twitter.com/ZtIgpBdvF8— EADP KwaZulu-Natal (@EADP_KZN) March 6, 2018
Gosh this is horrible- --— CCI Network (@cci_network) March 6, 2018
Mr Gwala please ensure that you are given access to the @SAPoliceService Victim Empowement Centre for trauma counselling or Alternatively contact @bubbleoutthebox to facilitate same .
We wish you a speedy recovery ---- & we wish you justice
@MhlengiGwala We’re pulling for you Mhlengi. Don’t let hate break who you are brother. Come back stronger than ever. South Africa is waiting for you. Strength to you my man.— Dubs (@dubsymike) March 6, 2018