Former tennis star Bob Hewitt minutes before he was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for rape and sexual assault. File picture: Masi Losi.

PRETORIA - The parole placement, from September 23, of convicted rapist and former tennis star Bob Hewitt is to be reviewed, the justice and correctional services ministry said on Sunday.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola had received confirmation from the Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB) on the parole placement of Hewitt, the ministry said in a statement.

"Upon studying the CSPB’s decision, the minister noted with grave concern the lack of participation by the victims of crimes in the parole consideration process. It is critical that the justice system in all its facets pays a considerable amount of attention to the victim-centric approach, as envisioned in national framework on sexual offenses of 2012," the minister said.

In light of this, Lamola had instructed the National Commissioner of Correctional Services  Arthur Fraser to take the matter on review with the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board (CSPRB), as per section 77(1) of the Correctional Services Act.

The CSPRB was an empowered structure to review the decision of the CSPB, should a submission be made to it by the minister, the commissioner, the Inspecting Judge, or the “person concerned”.  

Lamola believed that it was fair and in the interests of justice that the victims and their families be afforded an opportunity to participate in the parole consideration process of the offender, as required by laws governing the parole process.

"As mandated by section 75(8) of the Correctional Services Act, referring this matter for a review with the Correctional Supervision and Parole Review Board will mean that a date of placement for inmate Hewitt is now suspended," the ministry said.

According to a letter reportedly sent to one of Hewitt's victims by the CSPB on September 12, the board received an application on August 13 for Hewitt to be placed on parole. The board considered the application on August 23, and "placement on parole was granted to him to be placed out on September 23 2019”.

Hewitt would be placed out on parole under the “high risk” category for the duration of his parole which would end on September 19, 2022, the letter states.

Hewitt was convicted in March 2015 on charges of raping two teenagers he coached in tennis and sexually assaulting a third one in the 1980s and 1990s. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment at St Alban's prison in Port Elizabeth. He has served the minimum period necessary to be considered for parole.

- African News Agency (ANA), editing by Jacques Keet