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Shock after robbers try to saw off SA athlete's legs

08 March, 2018, 01:46 | Author: Christina Hansen
  • Mhlengi Gwala has represented his country twice in international competitions and is tipped as a future star of the triathlon circuit

Twenty-six-year-old Mhlengi Gwala was on his way to a training session when several men approached him and dragged him into the bushes.

Triathlete Henry Schoemen, who won bronze for South Africa at the Rio Olympics in 2016, called the attack on Gwala "disgusting".

The lack of a robbery motive is seen by his friend as a deliberate attack to cripple him before the national championships in 10 days time at Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Mhlengi Gwala, 27, was undergoing surgery after the attack which occurred before dawn on Tuesday in the coastal city of Durban, said Dennis Jackson, director of the elite athlete program for KwaZulu-Natal province. The athlete had offered his cellphone, wallet and bicycle to the assailants, who still went for his legs and were speaking in a language that Gwala could not understand, Jackson said.

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Durban is located on South Africa's coast.

Police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala told the BBC the attackers could be charged with attempted murder.

But instead of taking his items, the men reportedly dragged him to a private area where they tried to saw off his legs.

"I have never heard of any enemies that he may have", said Jackson, via AP.

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Fellow triathlete and Olympic silver medalist Henri Schoeman tweeted about the attack on Tuesday evening.

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

"Mhlengi doesn't know why they left".

Mhlengi Gwala previously represented South Africa at worldwide competitions in Chicago and the Netherlands in 2015 and 2017 respectively. The athlete's long-term goals were to compete in half or whole ironman triathlons.

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


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