South Africans open wallets to help triathlete injured in chainsaw attack

UPDATE: The story has been updated to reflect the increase in donations.

Durban - More than R300 000 was raised in less than 24 hours after an online crowdfunding campaign was started on Wednesday for South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala.

Gwala, 26, underwent leg surgery in Durban on Wednesday after he was attacked with a chainsaw on Tuesday.

READ: Robbers try to cut off SA triathlete's leg with chainsaw

The campaign was created on the South African website BackaBuddy - an online crowdfunding platform designed to help individuals raise money for causes they are passionate about.

"We are hoping to raise funds to support him with all his medical expenses, transportation, bike replacement and rehabilitation costs," said JP Valverde, who created the campaign on BackaBuddy.

On Thursday morning more than R300 000 had already been raised.

Gwala was training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal at about 03:15 on Tuesday when he was approached by three men who dragged him into the surrounding bushes.

He was severely injured after the men used a chainsaw to try and saw off his legs.

KwaZulu-Natal police are investigating.

"A case of attempted murder was opened at Umbilo police station after [he] was approached by three suspects, who dragged him into the bush at Umbilo area," Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said on Wednesday.

He said security guards came to Gwala's rescue and he was taken to hospital.

Messages of support

According to his athletic sponsor, Sue de la Porte, Gwala tried offering the assailants his cellphone and cash, but they still pinned him down and tried to saw off his leg.

De la Porte said Gwala was taken to the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban.

Gwala, from rural Ndwedwe, has competed in two international triathlons.

Some of the people who contributed to the fundraiser on BackaBuddy wished Gwala a speedy recovery.

Sarah Terry, who donated R514.10, said: "As South Africans, we are behind you. Every step of the way."

Andrew Blake, who contributed R205.64, wrote: "Wishing you a speedy recovery."

Emily Skelding, who donated R102.82, said: "You can do this!

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