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A triathlete thought it was a robbery. Then,three men tried to cut off his legs with a chainsaw.
Mhlengi Gwala, a triathlete in South Africa, was riding his
bicycle on an ordinary training run early Tuesday when he was
attacked by three men he believed were intent on robbing him. He
offered them everything he had, but what happened next was
utterly horrifying.

The men pulled Gwala into bushes next to a road in Durban, on
the eastern coast of South Africa, and tried to cut off his legs
with a chain saw in an attack that ended when they could not cut
through bone.

“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, the 26-year-old athlete’s training
partner, told the BBC. “They dragged him to the side of the road
to some bushes, took a saw and started cutting his legs. 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, 27, managed to drag himself to safety and underwent
surgery after the early-morning attack. “When he spoke to
doctors, they said they will be able to save his leg,” Shange
said, “and he will be able to walk and run again, but it is a
long walk to recovery.” Shange told South Africa’s News24 that
doctors had said “the blood flow is good, the only problem is
with his tendons.”

Dennis Jackson, director of the Elite Athlete Development
program to which Gwala belongs, said the motive for the attack
is unclear. “We have spoken with Mhlengi,” he told South
Africa’s “He is in hospital‚ in the trauma unit
of the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital‚ awaiting transfer to
another hospital. Our sports doctor has spoken to him. He is

The attack stunned Jackson and the South African athletic

“I haven’t quite got to grips with exactly what happened. It
seems like they pulled him into a bush while he was on a
training ride. They had a chain saw and went for one of his
legs‚ which is the concerning part. We don’t yet know how far
they went in‚ whether they were trying to cut it off‚ or what
the circumstances are. All we know is that Mhlengi is alive‚ he
is talking and that he is under medical care. We don’t have the
whole story as yet.”

Henri Schoeman, South Africa’s 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in
the triathlon, called the attack “absolutely disgusting” and
tweeted that he hopes the incident causes South Africa to “make
cycling safer” on the country’s roads.

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?

1:02 AM - Mar 6, 2018 · Umhlanga, South Africa
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Donovan Geldenhuys, another South African triathlete, tweeted
that Gwala, who was to compete in the South African national
championships in two weeks, “a true gentleman. I can’t even
imagine this happening. It’s sickening! Praying for him to heal
up quick.”

According to Jackson, Gwala overcame drug and alcohol addiction
and represented South Africa at international competitions in
Chicago in 2015 and in the Netherlands last year.

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