Chainsaw-wielding gang randomly attacks South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala

Chainsaw-wielding gang randomly attacks South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala

Javier Howell
March 8, 2018

In the early morning hours of March 6, the 27-year-old (the BBC reports he's 26 while the AP reports his age to be 27) was pulled from his bike by three assailants who began to saw into the multi-sport athlete's legs.

Triathlete Henri Schoeman broke the news of the attack on his verified Twitter account and pledged his support for Gwala.

The attackers sawed into Gwala's right calf, damaging muscle, nerves, and bone, before going for his left leg, and then escaping.

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 has represented South Africa at global competitions in Chicago in 2015 and in the Netherlands past year. "Two of them held him down while the other started on his leg".

He said:"We have spoken with Mhlengi".

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"The suspects fled the scene when they noticed someone was coming and the victim was assisted by security guards in the vicinity", said police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala, no relation to the athlete.

"I have never heard of any enemies that he may have", he said. They had a handsaw and went for one of his legs‚ which is the concerning part. We don't know yet how far they went in.

"Mhlengi doesn't know why they left".

A crowdfunding initiative was announced on the Ironman South Africa Facebook page‚ as the organisation expressed its sadness at the attack on the triathlete‚ while sending him "best wishes and a speedy recovery". "Absolutely disgusting! How safe are we on SA roads?"

Gwala is a strong contender for the race which is a 40k cycle, 10k run and 1.7k swim.