Manhunt under way for triathlete's handsaw attackers

07 March 2018 - 11:17 By Suthentira Govender
Mhlengi Gwala
Mhlengi Gwala
Image: Facebook/Mhlengi Mhle Gwala

Police are searching for three men believed to be linked to the brutal handsaw attack on South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala.

Gwala managed to drag himself to safety after he was attacked while training in the vicinity of the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.

The attackers had dragged him into a bushy area‚ where they attempted to sever his leg with a handsaw.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said an attempted murder case had been opened at the Umbilo police station. “No arrests have yet been made.”

Dennis Jackson‚ director of the Elite Athlete Development programme - which Gwala is a part of - said Gwala was scheduled for surgery on Wednesday. “We had some very good news overnight. The plastic surgeon said they are more than likely able to save the leg. They will be able to repair most of the damage.”

Jackson said the attackers managed to cut through most of Gwala’s muscle‚ nerves and arteries to the bone.

“They (the thugs) missed the main artery‚ which is great. The [doctors] should [be able to] save the leg. They will only know what they [are] going to do with the bone once they’re in. It will be rehab from there onwards. He did loose a lot of blood‚ but thankfully he got help.”

Jackson said the 27-year-old athlete was on strong medication to manage the pain.

Gwala‚ who has been part of the athlete programme for four years‚ has represented South Africa twice in international triathlons.

Jackson said he would miss the South African Triathlon Championships in Bloemfontein in two weeks.

The sporting fraternity was shocked by the news. Donovan Geldenhuys commented‚ "Utterly disgusting! @MhlengiGwala is a true gentleman‚ I can’t even imagine this happening‚ it’s sickening! Praying for him to heal up quick."

Friend and fellow triathlete Henri Schoeman shared the shocking crime on his official Twitter account.

Correction: This article originally stated that a chainsaw was used in the attack. It has since come to light that the weapon was a handsaw.