Durban – One of former tennis champion Bob Hewitt's rape victims is helping a KwaZulu-Natal matric pupil who wrote a matric exam shortly after she was raped.
"I can relate completely to what happened to her, because I played tennis immediately after he raped me," she told News24.
The Pietermaritzburg pupil was raped while on her way to write her first matric exam, an English paper, on Wednesday, October 26. Her attackers stole all her belongings, including her school books and ID document. She reported the attack to a local police station and went to write the exam.
- Read the article here: KZN matriculant raped on way to exam, completes paper
The woman Hewitt raped, who did not want to be named, said she was so touched by the girl's ordeal that she pledged an undisclosed amount of money to help her family.
"She has gone through the unthinkable and I think that it is amazing how her family has rallied behind her and supported her.
"I am willing to do anything to help and I am pleading with all South Africans to join me in raising funds for this young woman's future."
Pupils like her deserved a better education, the woman said.
Hewitt coached her in tennis when she was in school. She said Hewitt picked her up from school and drove her to tennis practice.
Groomed for months
"I consented but, to be honest, I did not know what I was doing."
Hewitt parked his left-hand drive blue Saab and raped her.
"He had groomed me for about 18 months and in my little world, he loved me. He instilled it in us that this was something that we all needed to do. But all was pretty until it came to the act, which was painful."
Afterwards, she felt dirty and realised it was wrong.
"During the moment I panicked and I was shocked by what was happening. I was very quiet afterwards and he told me to go and clean myself."
She did so and then met Hewitt on the tennis court for tennis practice.
She appealed to others to help the KwaZulu-Natal pupil.
Another News24 reader, Vanessa Knight of Durban North, said she had a daughter in matric too.
Light at the end of the tunnel
"My daughter wrote the exact same exam and I could not believe that she had the courage to go on and write the exam in that mental state."
She wanted to pledge R2 000 to help replace the young woman's school books.
"Her commitment to her studies is commendable and she deserves to find light at the end of the tunnel," Knight said.
KwaZulu-Natal education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said there had been an overwhelming response to the crime.
Anyone who wants to help can call Vukani Khumalo in the MEC's office on 033 355 2406.
"We urge all South Africans to rally behind any person who finds themselves in a similar situation by protecting young girls in our communities and coming forward with information about perpetrators and ensuring that the law takes its course," Mahlambi said.
Arrangements had been made for the pupil to write her exams in February. She was receiving counselling and would write supplementary exams.
No special treatment
In March last year, High Court Judge Bert Bam found Hewitt, 76, guilty of raping two women and indecently assaulting a third. In May, Bam sentenced Hewitt to eight years for each of the rapes.
Hewitt had 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. The sentences were to run concurrently.
In the 1990s he indecently assaulted another teenage girl he was coaching. He was sentenced to two years for this crime.
In June this year the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein dismissed his appeal to have his six-year jail sentence overturned. It said his fame did not earn him special treatment.
The Constitutional Court also rejected his bid to have his sentence reduced. He handed himself to authorities at St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth in September.