“I have forgiven them – but I will never forget.”
These were the words from South African triathlete Mhlengi Gwala, he was attacked by handsaw-wielding criminals while training in Cato Manor, Durban, in the early hours of the morning, in March.
The 27-year-old athlete from Chesterville was taken in the bushes at the campus in University of KwaZulu-Natal‚ where three men allegedly attempted to hack off his leg with a handsaw.
The injury effectively put paid to a potentially promising career as an able-bodied athlete.
“If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be here today. Forgiving them was one of the things that helped me so much,” said Gwala.
He was preparing to take part in Ride for Mr Price Foundation during a stop in Botha’s Hill, west of Durban. It was his first cycling appearance after making a miraculous recovery.
Gwala was one of 70 cyclists who took part in the two-day, 606km ride from Johannesburg to Durban, the aim is to raise funds for empowerment programmes.
“These two days [of cycling] have been very difficult for me, especially yesterday,” said an exhausted Gwala. “I am very happy that I am back on the road and I am doing well.”
After his vicious attack, the father of two received incredible amount of support from the public, where over R400,000 was raised on crowdfunding site BackaBuddy to pay for his medical bills. Gwala said that the outpouring support was the reason he got back on a bike.
“The people of South Africa and across the world are the ones who have kept me going. Their support and well-wishes – and my children – are what kept me going,” he said.
Since the incident, the attack resulted with a limp, he is now classified as a para-cyclist. He has eyes sight on getting Paralympic gold medal.
Photo credit- TimesLIVE