South African road running icon Sarah Mahlangu is currently fighting for her life at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital after being shot during an incident at her tavern in the East Rand over the weekend.
According to Mahlangu’s son, Thabo, the renowned athlete and multiple Soweto Marathon champion, as well as a Comrades Marathon gold medalist, was injured during an attempted robbery at her Tsakane tavern on Saturday.
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Thabo said: “We are uncertain about the exact details of what happened to her, but it appears that there was a robbery at her tavern, resulting in her being shot. Her injuries are severe, and she is currently awaiting surgery in the hospital”
“We have filed a report at Tsakane Police Station, but we are yet to receive updates on the progress of the investigation. Our main focus now is to ensure her survival,” explained Thabo.
Efforts by SurgeZirc SA to obtain a comment from Tsakane Police Station proved unsuccessful, with the officer on the phone directing inquiries to visit the station for further information.
Mahlangu’s running club, ISMO (Israel Morake) AC, expressed deep shock and sadness regarding the incident.
“As a club, we sincerely hope that those responsible for this abhorrent act will be brought to justice. We are devastated that such an incident has befallen an iconic figure in South Africa, and we send our heartfelt wishes for her swift recovery,” said club administrator Dorah Mngwevu.
Mahlangu is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished black female runners the country has ever produced. Throughout the early 2000s, the 57-year-old achieved remarkable success, winning numerous races.
Undoubtedly, one of her greatest achievements is her record-breaking victory in the Soweto Marathon, which she clinched an impressive four times.
In 2002, she became only the second black woman to secure a top-ten finish in the Comrades Marathon, crossing the line in seventh place with an impressive time of 6:53:41.
Prior to Mahlangu, the only other black woman to earn a gold medal was Nhlanhla Hlengwa, who finished ninth in 7:21:22 back in 1993.
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Mahlangu’s accomplishments also include triumphing in the 56km Two Oceans Marathon in 2000, completing the race in a time of 3:48:58, after finishing third the previous year.
As an ultra-specialist, she also claimed victory in the 50km Om Die Dam Marathon in 2003 and consistently performed well in the now-defunct City2City ultras, securing fourth place on at least three occasions.