DURBAN - Triathlon star Mhlengi Gwala’s attackers spoke a language he did not understand when they laid into him with a power saw.
“It was a funny language. I didn’t hear the words. They were not speaking isiZulu,” he told The Independent on Saturday from his bed at Durban’s Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, not far from where the extraordinarily brutal assault took place, near the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College campus.
He said it was an African language. “I didn’t understand (them) but I am still confused.”
Although he did not recall much about their words, he certainly remembered their actions.
“They cut me and then the one who was cutting stopped and then he went to look (at something).
“I don’t know what he was checking. But then he came back and said (to the others) - let’s go - and then they ran away.”
Cut to the bone, Gwala lay on the roadside in agony but not having been robbed of any possessions. It was around 3am on Tuesday when he was attacked in Rick Turner Road while on his way to meet fellow cyclist and best friend Sandile Shange down the hill at King Edward Hospital. The two are triathlon athletes and also work together as lifeguards.
Once abandoned by his attackers, he reached for his phone.
“I tried to phone the police, or Sandile.”
When the police failed to respond, Gwala decided it would be up to himself to take the next step towards getting help.
“The police didn’t respond. Then I decided that I had to crawl with this one leg to the road.
“Some security guards (from Fidelity) stopped their cars and I told the guy - take me to hospital.
“They took me straight to Albert Luthuli Hospital.”
He was then transferred to Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital where he underwent surgery.
Gwala said from his bed that he was still in pain but improving.
Police spokeswoman, Captain Nqobile Gwala, said investigations into the incident were taking place and that she could not divulge any details because they were at a sensitive stage.
Triathlon star Mhlengi Gwala shares his nightmare experience where he nearly lost his legs at the hands of criminals who tried to saw his legs off. Video: Duncan Guy
However, she appealed to anyone with information to report it to any police station or contact the police’s Crimestop number 0860 10111.
At the time of going to press Netcare was unable to offer comment on Gwala’s latest medical condition.
By last night, fundraisers from around the world had raised more than R635 000 to help Gwala. Donations ranged from R20 to R5 000.
In addition to a visit from Sports and Recreation Minister Thokozile Xasa, Gwala had a stream of friends and family popping in to his private ward with a view overlooking Durban harbour.
Among them were his sister Snengosi Gwala and fellow triathlon athletes brothers Raymond and Hlelani Radebe and Smiso Dlamini.
“We’ll be supporting him,” said Raymond.