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.
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.
How can you be so cruel & evil? People using a chainsaw to cut Mhlengi Gwala's leg. A young S.African triathlete.— Mzu (@bucleod) March 8, 2018
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.
I wish all the best to @MhlengiGwala in his operation and road to recovery. We all stand behind you and support you as we need to make cycling safer on the roads in South Africa!— Henri Schoeman (@H_Schoeman) March 6, 2018
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.
What kind of a society are we becoming that a great guy and sportsman is treated so barbarically? For that matter, how is it possible for a human do this to any other human??— alexia abnett (@aabnett) March 6, 2018
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.