A South African triathlete is recovering from severe injuries after three men reportedly attacked him and attempted to cut off his leg with a blunt chainsaw.
The incident took place in the coastal city of Durban when athlete Mhlengi Gwala, who has also competed in the United States, was cycling to his training. His senior coach believes he was targeted because of his “athletic status.”
“They grabbed me from the bike and asked where I was going,” the 27-year-old recalled before going into surgery. “Then they pointed a gun at me and I panicked. But they didn’t say anything else and just pulled me into the bushes where they started doing what they did to me.”
The 27-year-old had to go through six hours of operation to save his right leg.
Gwala's training partner later described the horrific attack in better detail.
“He thought they were coming to rob him, stopped and gave them his phone but they didn't want his phone, didn't want his watch or bicycle,” Sandile Shange told the BBC in an interview. “They dragged him to the side of the road to some bushes, took a saw and started cutting his legs.”
It gets even more horrible.
“They kept on cutting and when they got to the bone, because the saw was not that sharp, the saw got stuck,” he continued. “When they saw it was getting stuck they started on the other leg.”
The attackers only fled the scene when they were interrupted, leaving the victim bleeding and in immense need of help.
Fortunately for Gwala, the doctors were able to save his leg and said he was in a stable condition.
“When he spoke to doctors they said they will be able to save his leg and he will be able to walk and run again but it is a long walk to recovery,” Shange added.
The appalling assault is being compared to the 1994 attack on U.S. figure skater Nancy Kerrigan at a Detroit ice rink following a practice session. The incident took place shortly before the Olympic trials were scheduled to begin.
South Africa’s deputy sports minister, Gert Oosthuizen, took to Twitter to condemn the brutality.
I am shocked to hear of the attack on star athlete Mhlengi Gwala - it is totally unacceptable - the Police are investigating - let us await the outcome.— RSADepMinofSport (@GertCOosthuizen) March 7, 2018
Olympian triathlete Henri Schoeman, who won bronze for South Africa in 2016, also sent his well wishes to Gwala.
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
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Pixabay