Prosecution’s bid in Hewitt case fails

Bob Hewitt
Bob Hewitt

THE prosecution in Bob Hewitt’s rape trial has failed in its attempt to get a second bite at the cherry.

Prosecutor Carina Coetzee yesterday applied to reopen the state’s case to call another one of the former tennis champion’s students, Sabina Simmonds. After reading news reports of the allegations against Hewitt, Simmonds came forward and agreed to testify, the Johannesburg High Court sitting in Palm Ridge, heard.

Hewitt, 75, faces two counts of rape and one of indecent assault for allegedly abusing Twiggy Tolken, 47, Suellen Sheehan, 45, and a 37-year-old woman who may not be named, when he gave them tennis lessons in the 1980s and 1990s. He has pleaded not guilty.

Last week Tolken testified that Hewitt raped her in his Sun City hotel room in 1980. Tolken, who was 12 years old at the time, had shared a room with Simmonds.

She testified that she returned to their room in tears after she was raped and Simmonds helped her to phone her mother.

Coetzee said Simmonds remembered the day Tolken was upset and that the state had planned to call Simmonds to the stand but had trouble locating her. Judge Bert Bam rejected the state’s application.

Coetzee said investigating officer Sergeant Delene Grobler had made several attempts to reach Simmonds, but was unsuccessful. It was only on Tuesday when Heather Crowe, an American woman who has also made allegations of sexual misconduct against Hewitt, contacted Grobler with Simmonds’s phone number that they had a breakthrough, Coetzee said. Simmonds lives in the US. The case will return to court for closing arguments next month.

-Roxanne Henderson

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