In a freakish attack reminiscent of the Oscar-winning film "I, Tonya" and the "Saw" series, triathlete Mhlengi Gwala almost had his legs severed by three men wielding a handsaw while training on his bike.
The attackers dragged Mhlengi Gwala, 27, into a bushy area after hauling him off his bike, according to TimesLive in South Africa.
South African Olympic triathlon bronze medallist Henri Schoeman took to Twitter to condemn the attack and wish Gwala a speedy recovery.
The assailants began cutting into Gwala's left leg before they fled, allowing the athlete to crawl to a road and flag a passing vehicle.
Dennis Jackson, director of the elite athlete program for KwaZulu-Natal, told The Guardian that the alleged attackers missed a main artery and surgeons are confident they can save the leg.
Local police are reportedly investigating the matter as an attempted murder.
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Gwala's training partner Sandile Shange told the BBC the 26-year-old is stable in hospital and his injuries are not life-threatening.
The motive behind the attack is not clear.
"Two guys were holding his upper body and the other guy was just cutting the leg, and I think when they got to the bone, they got stuck", Shange told the 702 radio station. Three men reportedly ambushed Mhlengi Gwala and attempted to hack off both of his legs, TMZ reports. They then started cutting his legs with a saw. They had a handsaw and went for one of his legs‚ which is the concerning part.
Gwala was expected to compete in the South African national championship later this month.
"Blade too blunt and only got half way through one and started on the other".
South Africa suffers some of the world's highest crime rates, and saw 34 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in the 2015-2016 period, said police. Absolutely disgusting! How safe are we on SA roads?