Convicted rapist and ex-tennis star Bob Hewitt applies for parole

Bob Hewitt during a court appearance. (Herman Verwey/Gallo)
Bob Hewitt during a court appearance. (Herman Verwey/Gallo)

Convicted tennis star Bob Hewitt is applying for parole, after serving just two years of his six-year jail term.

Hewitt, 78, was sentenced to six years in prison for the rape of two young women and sexual assaulting another who he coached in the 1980s and 1990s.

He has been incarcerated at the St Albans Prison in Port Elizabeth since September 2016. The facility is close to his home in Addo.

Hewitt’s victims and several civil society organisations – including The Teddy Bear Clinic and Women And Men Against Child Abuse – are expected to oppose his parole application, which they view as premature.

"This is all very new. They give the victims a chance to effectively reply. He brings an application to the parole board, and they hear that and then they hear the opposition.

"We will make written and oral submissions," says lawyer Peter Van Niekerk, from Eversheds Sutherland, who is representing all of the parties.

"They’re absolutely outraged. It’s repulsive. He rapes two 12-year-olds. He’s in a position of total power and trust and he rapes two 12-year-olds. My clients and society at large should be outraged. He commits these horrendous crimes and then applies for parole after an extremely short period. He should serve his sentence and it must act as a deterrent for others."

Shown 'absolutely no remorse'

There is some doubt as to whether Hewitt is indeed eligible for parole, with some legal experts suggesting he can only apply after serving two-thirds, rather than one-third, of his prescribed sentence. Van Niekerk says they are taking further advice on this.

Olivia*, who testified against the ex-tennis star during his criminal trial, said she would be vociferously opposing his application.

"For me, it’s extremely upsetting. I’ve been in my own prison for 35 years and I’ve got another 35 years ahead of me. How is that OK? He’s shown absolutely no remorse and now he thinks it’s okay. Two years and he’s done his time. He must serve the full sentence.

"He already got like a discount in terms of his sentence because of his age. Why does he think he’s entitled to further discount? We do believe that he’s applying way too early for parole. It should be four years. Now I have to go face this man again."

Olivia has started a petition for members of the public to support her opposition to Hewitt’s application for parole.

The Australian-born Hewitt won nine Grand Slam doubles and six mixed doubles titles. He also reached the semifinals of the men's singles at the Australian Open three times and won the Davis Cup with South Africa in 1974 after moving to this country.

*Olivia is one of the victims who testified and has since changed her name. She does not want her surname to be used either.

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