March 17, 2018

Attackers try to saw off South African athlete's legs

08 March 2018, 01:28 | Ken Black

Mhlengi Gwala was riding near the University of KwaZulu-Natal when he was attackedALAMY

Mhlengi Gwala was riding near the University of KwaZulu-Natal when he was attacked

Gwala was training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal at 03:15 when he was approached by three men and dragged into the surrounding bushes, according to his athletic sponsor Sue de la Porte.

"They dragged him to the side of the road to some bushes, took a saw and started cutting his legs".

The grisly attack has alarmed athletes in Durban who routinely get up in the early morning darkness to train when few people are on the roads, and there was no immediate explanation for why Gwala was targeted.

Gwala, who has been part of the national programme for four years, has represented his country twice and would now miss the South African Triathlon Champ in two weeks.

The three attackers cut into Gwala's legs before he managed to escape.

The athlete's training partner Sandile Shange has told the BBC that Gwala had been involved in a potentially-fatal attack involving a chainsaw and an attempt at amputating his prized set of limbs. They kept on cutting and when they got to the bone, because the saw was not that sharp, the saw got stuck. Luckily, he is expected to walk again because the chainsaw the men used was reportedly too blunt to cut through his flesh and bones, according to TMZ.

The assailants began cutting into Gwala's left leg before they fled, allowing the athlete to crawl to a road and flag a passing vehicle. We don't know yet how far they went in. "He is a wonderful ambassador for the sport".

South Africa's deputy sports minister, Gert Oosthuizen, described the attack on the "star athlete" as "totally unacceptable" and said police are investigating. Absolutely disgusting! How safe are we on SA roads?

Gwala has represented South Africa at worldwide competitions in Chicago in 2015 and in the Netherlands past year.

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