Help for athlete after gruesome chainsaw attack

Mhlengi Gwala
Picture: Facebook/Mhlengi Mhle Gwala

Generous South Africans are starting to dig into their pockets to help promising triathlon competitor Mhlengi Gwala pay for his medical treatment after a gruesome attack on him by criminals wielding a chainsaw.

Police are searching for three suspects.

Gwala, 27, managed to drag himself to safety after he was attacked while training in the vicinity of the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.

The attackers had dragged him into a bushy area‚ where they attempted to sever his leg with the chainsaw.

Police spokesman LieutenantColonel Thulani Gwala said a case of attempted murder had been opened at the Umbilo police station.

Dennis Jackson‚ director of the Elite Athlete Development programme, of which Gwala is part, said he was on strong pain medication and scheduled for surgery yesterday.

“We had some very good news overnight. The plastic surgeon said they are more than likely able to save the leg.”

Jackson said the attackers managed to cut through most of Gwala’s muscle‚ nerves and arteries to the bone, but missed the main artery.

A crowdfunding initiative was announced on the Ironman SA Facebook page‚ and offers of help were shared on the group.

A target of R100 000 has been posted on the BackABuddy website‚ titled “Get Mhlengi back on his bike”.

“We are hoping to raise funds to support him with all his medical expenses‚ transportation‚ bike replacement and rehabilitation costs,” JP Valverde told supporters.

Gwala has represented South Africa twice in international triathlons.

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