South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala, who underwent leg surgery following a brutal chainsaw attack in Durban three months ago, has started walking without crutches

The 26-year-old was training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal in March when he was approached by three men who pinned him down and tried to saw off his right leg with a chainsaw.

Fortunately, Gwala is well on his way to recovery and already has plans to start cycling again.

READ MORE: Triathlete “recovering well” after horror chainsaw attack 

‘I started walking without crutches’

“Things are going back to normal. I was scared to start training, but now I’m feeling much better than before. Today, I started walking without crutches,” he said.

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“Hopefully I’ll be able to start my tour in December and cycle from Johannesburg to Durban in two days. I’m just focusing on training and getting stronger.”


Fellow athlete and training partner Sandile Shange said that he was proud of his friend’s progress.

“He is doing so well. He’s already training on the stationary bike,” Shange said.

Despite his progress, Gwala is still uncertain about whether he will return to his full strength.

“The doctors can’t say anything about my recovery – even I can’t say anything about my recovery,” he said.

“Things can change tomorrow.”

Mhlengi Gwala
In this photo taken Sept, 27 2015 and supplied by B-Active Sports, Mhlengi Gwala competes in an event in Durban, South Africa. Assailants attacked Gwala, a top athlete, Tuesday, March 6, 2018, while he was cycling to a training session and cut into his legs with a blunt saw, causing severe injures. (B-Active Sports / Jethro Snyders via AP)

Full recovery expected

A full recovery for Gwala is expected to take at least two years due to nerve damage, according to Team South Africa’s Olympic doctor Kevin Subban.

Subban previously told News24 that patients who suffered less severe injuries than Gwala required six to nine months to fully recover.

The young athlete from Ndwedwe said that he is fortunate to have a team of therapists and biokineticists at his side.


However, he is most thankful for his friends and family who have supported him. Even strangers on the internet rallied behind him and donated more than R600 000 to his crowdfunding account.

“My friends have just given me their all. I just want to thank everybody for supporting me,” he said.

“No one knew who I was before all of this, so it was amazing when these people started supporting me as if they knew me.”