Three men have reportedly tried to cut off the legs of a top South African triathlete with a blunt saw while he was riding to a training session in Durban.
Mhlengi Gwala, 27, underwent surgery after the attack before dawn on Tuesday (local time) in the coastal city, director of the elite athlete program for KwaZulu-Natal province Dennis Jackson said.
The attackers pulled Gwala off his bicycle as he cycled up a steep hill and sawed into his right calf, damaging muscle, nerves and bone, said Mr Jackson, who has spoken by phone to the triathlete about the ordeal.
They missed a main artery and surgeons are confident they can save the leg, Mr Jackson said.
The attackers then started sawing into Gwala’s left leg before fleeing, enabling the athlete to crawl to a road and flag down a passing car to take him to a hospital.
South Africa’s Deputy Sports Minister Gert Oosthuizen described the attack on the “star athlete” as “totally unacceptable” and said police are investigating.
Triathlete Henri Schoeman, who won bronze for South Africa at the Rio Olympics in 2016, tweeted details of the attack before asking: “How safe are we on SA roads?”