Attackers try to saw off SA athlete's legs

Discovery                       Mhlengi Gwala

Discovery Mhlengi Gwala

A promising South African triathlete almost lost his leg after he was attacked with a chainsaw in Durban.

Gwala was on a training ride on his bicycle before dawn in the coastal city of Durban when he was dragged off the road by three attackers, and they attempted to cut off his legs with a boring blade.

Gwala's ordeal is eerily similar to the 1994 beating of Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, whose leg was nearly broken by Tonya Harding's husband - an attack that left other athletes reeling.

Gwala is lucky to be alive. "When they saw it was getting stuck they started on the other leg".

"A case of attempted murder was opened at Umbilo police station for investigation."Gwala competed at the 2017 International World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam in September in the 25-29 male category, coming in 45th position".

Jackson told The Guardian that Gwala had overcome drug and alcohol addictions to represent South Africa at worldwide competitions in Chicago in 2015 and in the Netherlands previous year.

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"They kept on cutting and when they got to the bone, because the saw was not that sharp, the saw got stuck", police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala told the BBC. "He will be able to walk and run again but it will take some time", Shange said. The three assailants were reportedly trying to rob him, so Gwala offered them his bike and the rest of his valuables in hopes of appeasing the situation.

Gwala's friend and fellow triathlete, Sandile Shange, said Gwala told him that the attackers failed to cut through the bone because they had used a blunt, rusty saw.

"They took the chainsaw, which they were not using electrically, but manually".

"One was armed with a firearm and they attempted to cut off his legs with a chainsaw".

"He is now in surgery to try and save his leg".

"A security van then came driving down".

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