Bob Hewitt to be sentenced tomorrow

Former tennis player Bob Hewitt. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Former tennis player Bob Hewitt. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Former tennis legend and convicted rapist Bob Hewitt will be sentenced tomorrow for sex crimes committed more than 30 years ago.

Australian-born Hewitt, 75, was last month convicted of two counts of rape and one of indecent assault by Judge Bert Bam in the Palm Ridge court, south of Johannesburg. Hewitt’s lawyer, Terry Price, will present evidence in mitigation of sentencing. He has already implored the court to consider his client’s advanced age. “We’re dealing with a man who is 75-years-old,” Price reminded Judge Bam after he convicted Hewitt.

Yesterday Suellen Sheehan, who has finally been vindicated alongside Theresa “Twiggy” Tolken after more than three decades of pursuing the tennis legend, indicated they couldn’t wait for their nightmare to end. “I just want it over with,” said Sheehan.

She was speaking to The Citizen after she and MatrixMen founder Martin Pelders told their stories to Grade 9 pupils at Willowmoore High School in Benoni and how the abuse had changed their lives.

The pupils were transfixed as first Pelders, then Sheehan described their inner turmoil, the self-destruction it had caused, and eventually their roads back to recovery.

In Pelders case it was a family member who began abusing him when he was six years old while Sheehan’s hell started when Hewitt groomed her as a promising young tennis star before raping her. Only 25 years later was Sheehan able to pick up a tennis racquet again.

“I’m looking for a minimum of 15 years. If it was possible, I would like him to serve 30 years for the two rape convictions because that’s the amount of time he has taken from me,” Sheehan said.

“I think he is pretty much serving time already, he’s already been in the box for four years.

“If he has half a conscience then he has served his whole life, but I don’t think he does have much of a conscience. He certainly has served the last four years, he probably has only five or six years left. Let him serve those and let him serve them in hiding and with the shame he made us live with.”

Willowmoore High School has pledged to hold a fundraising walk for Pelders’ 2 793km ride from Beit Bridge in Limpopo province to Cape Agulhas to raise awareness about male sexual abuse. The ride takes place in February next year.


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