In an article published in the Weekend Post in 2011, one of Bob Hewitt’s alleged victims said the former tennis champion sexually assaulted her, but she made no mention of rape, the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, heard on Tuesday.
Delivering his evidence-in-chief, defence witness and journalist Shaun Gillham told the court that when he interviewed Suellen Sheehan she never used the word rape.
According to the article Hewitt approached her when she was nine and he sexually assaulted her.
Sheehan is one of two women who have testified that Hewitt raped them in the 1980s. A third witness claimed she was sexually assaulted by Hewitt in the 1990s.
Hewitt, 75, is on trial for two counts of rape and one of indecent assault.
Sheehan has testified that Hewitt, who gave her tennis lessons, raped her in his car when she was 12 years old before practice.
Gillham however maintained that was not what she told him.
“I stand by this article,” said Gillham, adding that, according to his understanding, Sheehan said Hewitt began sexually assaulting her when she was nine.
“So these are her words?” asked Terry Price, for Hewitt.
“Absolutely,” Gillham responded.
He said it was always important for a journalist to ensure that sources were quoted verbatim.
The notes he took during his telephonic interview with Sheehan were no longer available.
Sheehan has told the court that she was misquoted in several newspaper articles, particularly on her age when Hewitt raped her.
Gillham said Sheehan never contested the article and he wrote several follow-up articles on the matter.
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Carina Coetzee, Gillham said he interviewed another of Hewitt’s alleged victims, but could not recall her name.
In his article, Gillham stated they had been informed that Hewitt suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. When he later spoke to Hewitt, he never verified these claims.
Gillham said this was kept in the article to “add colour”.
Another journalist was expected to take the stand later.