South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala, who was attacked with a chainsaw and suffered serious injuries to his legs earlier this week, is receiving support after undergoing surgery on Wednesday. A BackaBuddy crowdfunding campaign — tabbed "get Mhlengi back on his bike" — had raised more than $33,000 for the 27-year-old after Tuesday's attack in Durban, South Africa according to USA Today.
Mhlengi Gwala, 27, received injuries to both of his legs after three men attempted to cut them off in the South African coastal city of Durban, he told a local outlet, The Mercury.
“They grabbed me from the bike and asked where I was going,” the sportsman – who has competed in America – said before going into surgery. “Then they pointed a gun at me and I panicked. But they didn’t say anything else and just pulled me into the bushes where they started doing what they did to me.”
His best friend and training partner Sandile Shange told the BBC the attackers had attempted to saw off Gwala’s right leg but moved to the left when the saw hit the bone of his right and would not cut through. The men were reportedly interrupted and the men ran away, so the athlete dragged himself to help.
“He thought they were coming to rob him, [he] stopped and gave them his phone but they didn’t want his phone, didn’t want his watch or bicycle,” Shange said.