08/03/2018 11:36 SAST | Updated 08/03/2018 11:36 SAST

More Than 200K Raised In Less Than 24 Hours For Chainsawed Triathlete Mhlengi Gwala

The campaign is on an online crowdfunding platform designed to help individuals raise money for causes they are passionate about.

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More than two thirds of the R300,000 target amount was raised in less than 24 hours after an online crowdfunding campaign was started on Wednesday for Durban triathlete Mhlengi Gwala.

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

Discovery magazine
Durban triathlete Mhlengi Gwala (L).

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.

By Thursday morning, more than R230,000 had already been raised.

Gwala was training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal at about 3.15am on Tuesday, when he was approached by three men who dragged him into the surrounding bushes.

He was severely injured after the men tried to saw off his legs with a chainsaw.

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, competed in two international triathlons in the Netherlands and the U.S. last year, and was also a competitor in the Chicago ITU Aquathlon World Championships in September – a discipline consisting of consecutive swimming and running.

Many of the people who contributed to the BackaBuddy fundraiser had personal messages of support for Gwala.

Donor Sarah Terry said: "As South Africans, we are behind you. Every step of the way."

Andrew Blake wrote: "Wishing you a speedy recovery."

Emily Skelding added: "You can do this!

Anyone who wishes to contribute to the crowdfunder and help get Gwala back on his bike – and his feet – can do so at BackaBuddy.