Barring any last-minute surprises, it will be the end of a five-year tussle between former tennis great and now convicted child rapist Bob Hewitt and justice for three women when he hands himself over to the notorious St Albans prison in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.
Hewitt begins serving his six-year jail sentence handed to him in 2015 by South Gauteng High Court Judge Bert Bam for two counts of rape and one of sexual assault on three former girl students of his during the ’80s and ’90s after his petition for direct access to the Constitutional Court was refused last week.
At 76 years of age and apparently in frail health, it is unlikely Hewitt will spend the full six years in prison.
“It is more likely he will spend two years, maybe two and a half, given the aforementioned,” criminal defence attorney Cliff Alexander told The Citizen.
“It’s been a challenging road,” a rape survivor said on Monday.
She has withdrawn permission for her name to be published as “it’s time for me to move on with my life”.
“Hewitt is the person who taught me to run every ball down and to get every ball back at all costs,” she said.
“There were a few bumps in the road, but what did we expect from someone who believed that winning at all costs was the only option, no matter how ugly it got? We would have been naive to think he didn’t have a dropshot or an ace or even a sneaky down-the-line slice up his sleeve. He forgot he taught me the same tactics and game plan. I used them and I’m glad I listened.”
The other rape survivor, Theresa “Twiggy” Tolken said in a statement on Monday that she and her mother had been waiting a long time for this outcome.
“Bob Hewitt has tried to evade justice and tried anything at his disposal to stay out of jail for the past few years. He has continually lied about his despicable actions,” said Tolken.
Hewitt has never conceded committing the rapes and sexual assault. He also had to pay R100 000 to fund anti-abuse campaigns at the department of justice.
When Hewitt gets out, there’s a R16 million civil claim waiting for him in Boston, America.
Heather Crowe Conner from Massachusetts won the claim after accusing him of sexually abusing her during the 1970s while he was her tennis coach as well.
St Albans Correctional Facility is no tennis camp either. It’s an infamously hard prison with some of the country’s most dangerous inmates locked up behind its walls and the words ‘torture’, ‘violent’, ‘unsanitary’, and ‘notorious’ featuring regularly in headlines about the prison.
In June 2015 the local newspaper, The Herald, reported one of South Africa’s “most dangerous and notorious criminals” Kenneth “Pie” Lavita and seven other high-risk prisoners were transported to the prison.
In another matter, 231 prisoners instituted a mass claim last year for millions of rands, alleging they were tortured during a mass assault after a warder was killed in 2005.
More recently, it was where Sizwezakhe Vumazonke, suspected of killing Jayde Panayiotou allegedly on behalf of her husband Christopher – died this month after he became violently ill before sliping into a coma.
The SABC reported that the cause of Vumazonke’s death could not be confirmed, but questions were being asked on whether he had been poisoned.
Christopher Panayiotou is being held at St Albans as an awaiting-trial prisoner.