Former tennis champion Bob Hewitt is set to be released from prison after serving a part of his six-year sentence for the rape and sexual assault of minors, back in the 1980s and 1990s.
The 79-year-old was convicted of his crimes in 2015, and sentenced to six years behind bars.
He began his sentence at the St Albans prison in Port Elizabeth in September 2016, and is due to be released on parole three years later.
Bob Hewitt set to walk free
It has been confirmed by the Department of Correctional Services that Hewitt is being considered for an early release, which could see him out of prison on 23 September.
According to correctional services spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo, the multiple Grand Slam winner has served the minimum time required for him to qualify for parole.
“The offender has indeed served the minimum time required to be considered for parole by the board,” Nxumalo said in a statement. “Once the decision has been made, it will be communicated to the parties involved, which includes the offender, victims of the crime and their families.”
Tennis champ faces resistance in bid for parole
The decision to release Hewitt from prison is likely to be met with resistance from his victims and civil society groups, as was the case when he applied for parole in 2018.
When news of an early release first broke out, some of the women he violated, spoke out against the possible parole.
At the time, his application was unsuccessful, and he later changed it to a request to serve out the rest of his sentence under house arrest.
That too was not successful and civil society group, Women and Men Against Child Abuse welcome the decision.
“We hope that Hewitt will remain behind bars for the full duration of his sentence, and that his victims may now enjoy the peace of mind that justice has been upheld,” the group’s founding director Miranda Jordan said.
“We are satisfied that everyone involved’s input has assisted in creating a public outcry that surely has impacted positively in this regard, and also strengthened the united message that we will no longer tolerate child abuse in any form.”
Miranda Jordan, Women and Men Against Child Abuse
Hewitt began trial in 2013, and was convicted for the rape of two women, adolescents at the time, plus the sexual assault of a further two, whom he was coaching.