Anti-abuse group welcomes Hewitt ruling

2016-06-09 17:55
Bob and Delaille Hewitt. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Bob and Delaille Hewitt. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Bloemfontein – Women and Men against Child Abuse on Thursday welcomed the dismissal of former Grand Slam tennis champion Bob Hewitt’s appeal against his six-year jail sentence. 

“We are satisfied and welcome the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgment today and 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,” its director Miranda Friedmann said.   

The SCA said his fame did not earn him a special sentence. Hewitt tried to have his six-year jail sentence for raping two young women and sexually assaulting another overturned.  

“No person committing crimes against children should get away with it because of any power they wield through their fame or wealth, or however long ago they abused children,” Friedmann said. 

“The heinous crime of raping a child no matter when or how it occurred should consistently carry a life sentence if our society wishes to eradicate the scourge and devastating consequences of rape in our country.”

In March last year, Pretoria High Court Judge Bert Bam had found the 75-year-old guilty of raping Suellen Sheehan and Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken. 

In May last year, Bam sentenced Hewitt to eight years for each of the rapes. Hewitt coached the women in the 1980s, when they were teenagers. 

Two years of each sentence were suspended for two years, provided he paid an amount on each count towards a department of justice programme to combat the abuse of women and children.

In the 1990s, he coached another teenage girl - who may not be named. He was sentenced to two years for indecently assaulting her.

The sentences would run concurrently. Bam granted Hewitt leave to appeal the sentences.

He said earlier that Hewitt's age, his health and the time that had elapsed since the crimes made the decision to impose a correct sentence very difficult.

Read more on:    bob hewitt  |  bloemfontein  |  gender violence

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