'We will oppose any further bail for Hewitt' - activists

2016-06-19 13:42
Bob Hewitt. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Bob Hewitt. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – A crowd is set to gather outside the Johannesburg High Court on Monday to oppose any bail application by former tennis Grand Slam champion and convicted rapist Bob Hewitt.

“We will oppose any further bail for Hewitt – we demand he start his prison sentence without delay!’ said Vincentia Dlamini-Ngobese, spokesperson for the Women and Men against Child Abuse group.

Hewitt’s lawyer Johann Engelbrecht recently indicated they would go to court on Monday to ask for his bail to be extended.

This was so they could take his case to the Constitutional Court.

Last week Thursday, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein said Hewitt had abused his position of authority when he raped two young women and sexually assaulted another.

It dismissed his appeal to have his six-year jail sentence overturned, and said his fame did not earn him special treatment. 

In March last year, High Court Judge Bert Bam found the 75-year-old guilty of raping Suellen Sheehan and Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken. Bam sentenced Hewitt to eight years each for the rapes in May. 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.

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

Dlamini-Ngobese said on Sunday that the court had been far too lenient in granting Hewitt bail after he was found guilty.

It also felt his prison sentence was unjust.

“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.”

The SCA said it was regrettable that it had taken so long to bring him to justice.

It said Hewitt’s crimes had had a "lasting and devastating" effect on the victims and their families.

Sheehan and Tolken, both divorcees, had struggled to maintain intimate relationships with men throughout their adult lives as a direct result of the rapes.

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