KwaZulu-Natal police are investigating the attempted murder of Durban triathlete Mhlengi Gwala, who was severely injured after three men used a chainsaw to try to saw off his legs.
Mhlengi Gwala, 26, had been training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal at around 03:15 on Tuesday, when he was attacked.
“A case of attempted murder was opened at Umbilo police station after [he] was approached by three suspects, who dragged him into the bush at Umbilo area. They tried to cut his legs and he was injured,” police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said on Wednesday morning.
Zwane said security guards helped Gwala and he was taken to hospital.
According to his athletic sponsor Sue de la Porte, Gwala tried offering the assailants his cellphone and cash, but they still pinned him down and tried to saw off his leg.
De la Porte said Gwala was at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, where he is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday.
The young athlete from Ndwedwe competed in two international triathlons.
Triathlete Henri Schoeman broke the news of the attack on his verified Twitter account and pledged his support for Gwala.
A friend and training partner of South African triathlete competitor Mhlengi Gwala, speculates jealousy after three men attempted to cut off Gwala’s legs without robbing him.
Sandile Shange, a close personal friend of Gwala’s, described what he saw when he met with his 26-year-old friend after the incident.
“It was so intense to see what we saw. They had cut through his flesh, but could not cut through completely because they could not get through his bone.”
Shange detailed Gwala’s description of the incident on Wednesday as Gwala went into a five-hour surgery to have his leg saved.