A South African triathlete was ambushed by people who did not want any valuable items, but instead pulled him into the bushes and tried to remove his legs.
The 26-year-old, Mhlengi Gwala, was riding a bicycle on March 6, at 3:15 a.m., when three men attempted to saw into his legs with a handsaw. They dragged him into the bushes near the University of KwaZulu-Natal, according to Times Live and News 24.
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
“He tried offering them his cellphone and money, but they pinned him down and tried to saw off his leg,” said his athletic sponsor Sue de la Porte, via News 24.
The attackers sawed into Gwala’s right calf, damaging muscle, nerves, and bone, before going for his left leg, and then escaping. They missed a main artery. Doctors believe they can save the leg that took the brunt of the punishment, AP reported.
“They kept on cutting and when they got to the bone, because the saw was not that sharp, the saw got stuck. When they saw it was getting stuck they started on the other leg,” Gwala’s training partner Sandile Shange told BBC.
The men ended up leaving, seemingly without achieving their aims.
“Mhlengi doesn’t know why they left. He dragged himself out of the bush onto the road and a private security car picked him up and took him to the nearest hospital,” said Dennis Jackson‚ director of the Elite Athlete Development program that Gwala is a part of, via Times Live.
The attack has friends of Gwala and other athletes puzzled.
“I have never heard of any enemies that he may have,” said Jackson, via AP. “He is a wonderful ambassador for the sport.”
Utterly disgusting! @MhlengiGwala is a true gentlemen, I can’t even imagine this happening, it’s sickening! Praying for him to heal up quick.
— Donovan Geldenhuys (@frankANDHIStank) March 6, 2018
Gwala has represented South Africa twice in international competition. He competed under the South African flag in Chicago, in 2015, and in the Netherlands in 2017, Jackson told The Washington Post. Jackson said Gwala will have to miss the upcoming South African Triathlon Champs, which take place in two weeks, according to Times Live.