Women's group questions SABC journalist's motive on Hewitt report

2015-10-08 10:36
Bob Hewitt. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Bob Hewitt. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - The Women and Men Against Child Abuse group on Thursday questioned the motives of an SABC journalist who reported that she was in possession of documents which suggested that victims of convicted rapist Bob Hewitt colluded against him.

The SABC report by journalist Jamaine Krige has fuelled Hewitt's lawyers to appeal his conviction. The former Grand Slam champion, was found guilty of raping Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken and Suellen Sheehan in the 1980s and of sexually assaulting a third woman, who may not be named, in the 1990s. He was their tennis coach at the time.

"In the 21 years since founding WMACA... I have never seen a relatively unknown journalist, attempt to re-evaluate in the public a High Court judge's decision," said Miranda Friedmann, director of WMACA.

"Krige comes to her own very personal conclusion and attempts to discredit in public, a senior state prosecutor, with numerous successful prosecutions of sexual offenders."

The SABC is standing by Krige and her story.

Friedmann lashed out at Krige in defence of the three women that the WMACA had been rallying behind throughout the trial.

"Printing this personal correspondence between victims of child rape - written years before the trial commenced - is amateurish, unprofessional and highly disrespectful," Friedmann said, adding that Krige had no right to publish the private conversations.

"All the private and confidential correspondence was written before Hewitt was removed from the International and National Halls of Fame. These conversations written in 2012 and 2013, long before the trial was able to commence in 2015 are of no relevance to the case," said Friedmann.

‘Collusion not necessary’

She said the state had a strong case against Hewitt and it was never necessary for the victims to collude in order to get a conviction.

According to the SABC's report, however, the discussions between the Hewitt's three accusers were about the case, but they all denied ever communicating about the matter when delivering their evidence before the court.

News24 approached Krige for comment on the matter. She referred all questions to the public broadcaster's spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

"It is very unfair for them [the WMACA] to be attacking her in her personal capacity. If any other journalist had gotten a hold of this information, they would have done the same thing," Kganyago said.

He said Krige was not trying to get the matter back to the courts.

"We, as the SABC, don't run the courts. This information is in the public interest and that is why we have put it out there. We are not siding with anyone. We don't even know Hewitt," he said.

Kganyago said all the information that Krige had used in her story had been verified.

Social media backlash

Meanwhile, Krige has also faced some criticism on social networking site Twitter, with some accusing her of creating hype around a book she is writing about the Hewitt case.

Kganyago confirmed that Krige planned to publish a book on the case.

"She is doing that in her personal capacity, we are not involved," he added.

In a report on Tuesday, the SABC said it had spoken to 75-year-old Hewitt who is currently under house arrest in the Eastern Cape.

He reportedly told the broadcaster that he was delighted by the latest developments, adding that he had always suspected that his accusers had schemed against him.

Following the six-year sentence handed down to him by the High Court in May, he was given leave to appeal his sentence, but not his conviction.

The matter was taken up with the Supreme Court of Appeal, which also agreed that Hewitt could only appeal his sentence, but not the conviction.

A date was yet to be set for the appeal.

Read more on:    sabc  |  bob hewitt  |  johannesburg  |  media  |  crime  |  child abuse

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