South African triathlete the victim of horrific sawing attack

Mhlengi Gwala was riding near the University of KwaZulu-Natal when he was attacked

The BBC reports that Gwala was training to compete at the national championships at the end of March.

Dennis Jackson‚ director of the SA Elite Athlete Development programme - which Gwala is a part of - said the motive for the attack remained a mystery.

Police are investigating the case as attempted murder, according to the BBC. "When they saw it was getting stuck they started on the other leg".

Surgeons are confident that they can save Gwala's leg.

Shange said the attackers only stopped cutting on one leg because the blade was too blunt and got stuck at the bone.

"The victim was approached by three suspects who dragged him into the bush and they tried to cut his legs and he was severely injured before going to hospital".

Gwala was taken to a hospital when found on the side of the road by a security company.

Durban is located on South Africa's coast.

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South African Olympic triathlon bronze medallist Henri Schoeman took to Twitter to condemn the attack and wish Gwala a speedy recovery.

Jackson said he was told the assailants were speaking in a language that Gwala could not understand.

Apparently dissatisfied with Gwala's belongings, the attackers then tried sawing off his legs instead.

"I haven't quite got to grips with exactly what happened".

Jackson said the attackers also started sawing into Gwala's left leg before fleeing, enabling the athlete to crawl to a road and flag down a passing vehicle to take him to a hospital.

"We don't yet know how far they went in‚ whether they were trying to cut it off‚ or what the circumstances are".

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

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