Rapist Hewitt must serve six years in jail

Former Grand Slam doubles champion Bob Hewitt. Picture: Moeletsi Mabe.
Former Grand Slam doubles champion Bob Hewitt. Picture: Moeletsi Mabe.

Disgraced former tennis champion Bob Hewitt’s appeal bid against his six-year sentence for rape and sexual assault has failed.

Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judges Mandisa Maya‚ Zukisa Tshiqi and Willie Seriti handed down their judgment on Thursday morning.

Hewitt had asked the SCA to reduce his effective six-year prison sentence which was handed down in the North Gauteng High Court by Judge Bert Bam in May last year‚ but the court has turned him down.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said the NPA welcomes the court’s decision.

“We maintain that the sentence is an appropriate one considering Hewitt’s age and the age of the victims [at the time of the offences]. The rights of the victim are central in the administration of justice‚” he said.

Advocacy organisation Women and Men Against Child Abuse also welcomed the SCA’s decision.

“We applaud the courage and bravery of Hewitt’s victims for putting their lives at risk and on hold to force justice to prevail at last‚” founding director Miranda Friedmann said in a statement.

Bam also ordered Hewitt to pay R100 000 to the justice department to be used in initiatives to curb violence against women and children.

Hewitt was found guilty in March last year of raping Theresa “Twiggy” Tolken and Suellen Sheehan and of sexually assaulting a third woman‚ who cannot be named‚ when they were his tennis students as teenagers in the 1980s and 1990s.

Arguing at Hewitt’s SCA hearing‚ his advocate‚ Johann Engelbrecht‚ said that Hewitt’s sentence should be reduced because of his old age and poor health.

But Tshiqi said that Bam did consider Hewitt’s old age as a mitigating factor when he gave his sentence.

Maya agreed‚ saying: “You must not overlook that the trial court could have imposed life imprisonment [on Hewitt for the rape of a minor].”

Prosecutor Carina Coetzee argued that Hewitt’s sentence should not be reduced due to his poor health and old age because this has not stopped him from running a successful citrus farm in the Eastern Cape.

Hewitt had been out on bail of R10 000.

– TMG Digital

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