Child rapist Bob Hewitt’s parole bid condemned

Australian-born former tennis Grand Slam champion and convicted rapist Bob Hewitt during a court appearance in Johannesburg, on March 23, 2015. Picture: AFP Photo

‘It is the most absurd, ludicrous, unbelievable request’ and a travesty of justice, said Dr Shaheda Omar, clinical director at the Teddy Bear Clinic.

With only slightly more than two of his eight-year sentence for child rape served behind bars, convicted paedophile Bob Hewitt is set to launch an application for early parole.

Hewitt, a former champion tennis player and coach, was convicted in 2015 on two counts of rape of two girls aged 12 and 13 and one count of indecent assault of a 17-year-old girl nearly 30 years ago. He has been spending time at St Albans Correctional Centre, close to his home at Addo in the Eastern Cape.

When news of the application reached Women and Men Against Child Abuse (Wamaca), director Kevin Barbeau met with the survivors and Peter van Niekerk of Eversheds Sutherland attorneys.

“Peter has kindly agreed to represent the three Hewitt rape and sexual assault survivors, Wamaca and The Teddy Bear Clinic,” he said. “We want the message to go out this cannot happen.

“Firstly, you have to serve at least half your time. Even though he received an effective six-year sentence, he was handed an eightyear sentence of which two were suspended, and that has to be taken into account.”

Barbeau said Wamaca would oppose Hewitt’s application “vehemently”.

When Hewitt appealed his sentence in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in 2016, SCA deputy president Justice Mandisa Maya took a dim view.

“The appellant, ironically a father of a young girl himself at the material time, exploited the complainants’ innocence and youth and forced them to submit to his wicked desires. He abused his position of authority and responsibility towards them and also abused the trust that their parents had placed in him when they put their young children in his care,” Maya said at the time.

“Quite apart from the immediate physical and psychological trauma which the complainants suffered from the offences, there is also the lasting and devastating effect which the offences have had on their lives and their families.”

Now 78 years old, it is possible Hewitt may apply for parole on medical grounds.

The Correctional Services Act states any offender may be placed on medical parole if, among other reasons, “is rendered physically incapacitated as a result of injury, disease or illness so as to severely limit daily activity or inmate selfcare, the risk of reoffending is low; and if somebody will be able to take care of the offender.

“I have worked so very hard to pick up the pieces of my life for the past 10 years. He has served only two years,” said one of the rape survivors in an online petition. “That is one fifth of the time it’s taken me to rebuild my life.”

Dr Shaheda Omar, clinical director at the Teddy Bear Clinic, called the early application a travesty of justice. “It is the most absurd, ludicrous, unbelievable request.”

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