| Last updated
South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala has endured a terrifying and near deadly encounter with a gang of thugs while he was riding a bike in Durban.
As he was training, attackers pulled him into bushes and whipped out a goddamn chainsaw. They tried to hack off his legs, but the machine was reportedly too blunt, and that gave the 26-year-old enough time to escape and flag down a passing car.
Gwala's training partner, Sandile Shange, has told the BBC: "He thought they were coming to rob him, stopped and gave them his phone but they didn't want his phone, didn't want his watch or bicycle.
A friend of mine, cycling in the Durban area was robbed by three people this morning, Then they attempted to saw off both legs with a chainsaw. Blade too blunt and only got half way through one and started on the other. Absolutely disgusting! How safe are we on SA roads?
- Henri Schoeman (@H_Schoeman) March 6, 2018
"They kept on cutting and when they got to the bone, because the saw was not that sharp, the saw got stuck. When they saw it was getting stuck they started on the other leg."
They began at his right calf and carved into muscle and nerves but thankfully missed any major arteries. Doctors reckon they'll be able to repair the damage done to both legs, but the recovery is expected to take several months.
It's particularly devastating as Gwala was due to compete at the South African national championships later this month.
Director of the elite athlete programme for KwaZulu-Natal province, Dennis Jackson, told the Guardian: "I have never heard of any enemies that he may have. He is a wonderful ambassador for the sport."
Gwala's journey to becoming an athlete is pretty inspirational, with Jackson adding that he rose through the ranks after battling a drug and alcohol addiction to be a fierce competitor and representative for South Africa at international events.
"Like a lot of young kids, he had a bit of trouble growing up but he decided that he wanted to change his life and take up sport, and that's what he did," says Jackson.
As he continues to recover, people from around the world have contributed to a fundraising page, which has already seen £27,750 ($38,504) donated so far.
The page says: "We are hoping to raise funds to support him with all his medical expenses, transportation, bike replacement and rehabilitation costs. We want to see him back on his bike!
"We received news that the surgery went very well and now the road to recovery begins!"
Police haven't revealed any motivation behind the shocking attack but robbery isn't strongly being considered considering his money, phone and bike weren't stolen.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read