South Africa’s former tennis great appeals against child rape sentence


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State Advocate Carina Coetzee on Tuesday told the South African Supreme Court of Appeal that former tennis great Bob Hewitt has shown no remorse for his child rape crimes and, as a result, he must be jailed.

The disgraced former international Hall of Fame star who owned a farm in the Eastern Cape, was in 2015 sentenced to six years imprisonment for the crimes which were committed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

However, he appealed against the sentence.

The South African Tennis Union had launched an investigation into him in 1992, but no legal action was ever taken against Hewitt.

The Australian-born Hewitt was convicted of raping Suellen Sheehan as well as Theresa Tolken in the 1980s, and the sexual assault of a third woman, who may not be named, in the 1990s.

In 1967, after marrying a South African, he became a South African citizen.

During a glittering career, he won all Grand Slam doubles titles, both in men’s and mixed doubles (U.S. Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open, French Open).

He also played a key role in South Africa’s only Davis Cup title in 1974.

He won seven titles in singles and 65 in doubles.

His career prize money amounted to more than a million dollars.

However in November 2012, he was suspended from the International Tennis Hall of Fame when the allegations first surfaced.

On Tuesday, Coetzee argued that the 76-year-old’s health may not be good, but he would receive adequate medical care in prison.

Hewitt’s lawyer Johann Engelbrecht called for a non-custodial sentence.

The court reserved its judgement which is expected to be handed down within a few days.

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