Second woman testifies at Hewitt trial

FILE PICTURE: Former tennis player Bob Hewitt looks on from the dock of the South Gauteng High Court. Picture: Refilwe Modise

FILE PICTURE: Former tennis player Bob Hewitt looks on from the dock of the South Gauteng High Court. Picture: Refilwe Modise

A second woman testified on Tuesday about how former tennis star Bob Hewitt allegedly sexually abused her as a child.

Suellen Sheehan described in the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, how the Australian-born Hewitt, now 75, allegedly sexually assaulted her when she was 12.

Hewitt had fetched her from school for tennis practice in 1982.

“On the way there, the discussions of making love, sex, puberty came up,” she said. She was being led in delivering her evidence-in-chief by her lawyer Carina Coetzee.

Hewitt has pleaded not guilty to two charges of rape and one of indecent assault.

The court heard that Sheehan and Hewitt drove along a gravel road and parked under trees. They were early for practice.

“On this day, the groundsman, Themba, was not around,” she said.

“No one else had arrived.”

She explained how Hewitt lowered the passenger seat of his car, which had a soft roof and black leather seats. He told her to lower her underwear.

“I’m not sure whether this was an instruction,” she said.

“He climbed on top of me,” she said, before choking on her words.

Judge Bert Bam temporarily halted proceedings to allow Sheehan to compose herself.

During the adjournment, Sheehan spoke to her lawyers. The dark-haired woman grasped her necklace, staring straight ahead and later at her lap.

Proceedings continued and she continued to relay what happened on that afternoon.

“He put his penis inside me. I remember exquisite pain,” Sheehan said.

“I don’t remember how long it lasted, whether it lasted 20 seconds or 20 minutes. I remember looking for Themba,” Sheehan said.

Hewitt told her to go and clean herself up.

“I remember a horrible odour,” she said.

Sheehan said she never objected to Hewitt touching her.

“I didn’t object. I was told this was something I was to do and I did it,” she said, adding that she respected Hewitt.

“I needed to listen to him in order to grow up and mature. I didn’t actively say this is what I didn’t want. I didn’t put up any resistance. I accepted it,” she said.

Sheehan said certain smells and sounds took her back to that day.

The white-haired Hewitt sat in the dock alongside his wife Delaille, who watched Sheehan as she testified.

Occasionally, Delaille Hewitt looked down and appeared to be writing something.

This was the second woman in as many days who has testified against Hewitt.


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