Published: Thu, March 08, 2018
Culture | By Margie Dunn

South African triathlete's legs sawed in vicious attack

South African triathlete's legs sawed in vicious attack

Gwala was training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal at about 3.15am on Tuesday, when he was approached by three men who dragged him into the surrounding bushes.

The athlete had offered his mobile phone, wallet and bicycle to the assailants, who still went for his legs and were speaking in a language that Gwala could not understand, Mr Jackson said.

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, who attempted to cut off his legs with a boring blade. Dennis Jackson‚ director of the Elite Athlete Development programme Gwala was a part of, told The Associated Press that the attackers sawed into Gwala's right calf, damaging muscle, nerves, and bone, before switching to the left leg and then abandoning Gwala to his injuries.

Remarkably, Gwala was able to get away and drag his mangled body to emergency services.

Meanwhile, South Africans took the story to heart and started a crowdfunding campaign to help Gwala with his medical bills, and by Thursday morning had raised over R300,000 ($2500 approx), almost triple the original target.

The men have not been caught at this time.

Gwala had been scheduled to compete in the South African triathlon championships later this month in Bloemfontein.

"They kept on cutting and when they got to the bone, because the saw was not that sharp, the saw got stuck", he continued. But the attack escalated, and De la Porte told News24: "He tried offering them his cellphone and money, but they pinned him down and tried to saw off his leg". "They (the attackers) saw that and ran off, leaving him on the side of the road".

The attack has friends of Gwala and other athletes puzzled.

Reportedly, doctors say Gwala will be able to walk again.

Triathlete Henri Schoeman, who won bronze for South Africa at the Rio Olympics in 2016, said he wishes Gwala the best on his path to recovery. "We are a little bit confused, we don't know who is behind everything".

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