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‘Hewitt has to pay for what he did’

Published Feb 10, 2015


Johannesburg - In 1980, South African world tennis champion Bob Hewitt wrote to his 12-year-old student, who he called “my love”, about how he didn’t want her to think he was a “sex maniac”.

Nearly 35 years later, at his rape and sexual assault trial, Hewitt’s wife wrote equally inappropriate words on her notepad.

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When the mother of one of Hewitt’s alleged victims, now openly a lesbian, was brought to the stand to testify, Delaille Hewitt wrote in bold capital letters: “DYKES’ MOTHER”.

This occurred as Theresa “Twiggy” Tolken was describing how Hewitt had for months allegedly tried to groom her for sex, culminating in an alleged rape attack at Sun City in 1980.

Tolken is one of three women who have laid charges against the one-time doubles champion, all claiming Hewitt took advantage of their innocence as young girls in the 1980s.

Tolken was the first to take the stand at the start of a trial at the high court sitting in Palm Ridge on Monday. She detailed how Hewitt had been her tennis coach, often taking her to private locations where he would allegedly fondle her and ask her to touch his erect penis.

He would sometimes slip letters into her tennis racket bag, three of which Tolken had saved and presented to the court on Monday. Usually addressing her as “my love”, Hewitt wrote of how Tolken, then 12, was the only one capable of “lifting him up”.

He wrote in one letter: “I’m always available in body, mind, heart and soul.” In the second letter, he wrote: “I can only assume you think of me as a sex maniac.”

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In the third, he wrote: “No more will I chase, no more will I come… Destroy this and the last (letter) now.”

Tolken said that at the end of 1980, because Hewitt had become a trusted friend of her parents, they were willing to let him drive her to Sun City, where she would be coached while her father participated in a golf tournament.

It was on the way there that Hewitt allegedly parked on the side of the road and asked her to kiss his penis. When she gave his genitalia a peck, he allegedly said: “No, that’s not how you do it.”

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He explained what he wanted and, according to Tolken – not yet a teenager – she complied.

It was at the Sun City hotel that Hewitt allegedly brought Tolken into his room, asked her to take a bath with him and then took her to his bedroom. He rubbed vaseline on his penis and tried to penetrate her, but according to Tolken, the pain was too much to bear, so he stopped.

It was only months later, when speaking in confidence with her sister, who then told their mother Colleen, that the family found out what had allegedly happened.

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While a charge of attempted rape was laid in 1981, according to the defence, it was dropped because the attorney-general at the time decided not to pursue the case.

When Colleen was brought to the stand to confirm her daughter’s story, she explained that the reason for the attempted rape charge, rather than a rape charge, was because “we (she and her husband) weren’t sure how far he put his penis in her”.

Her voice quivering with emotion, she then shot a glance at the now 75-year-old Hewitt in the dock, who did not react, and said: “I thought he was a gentleman… I trusted him with my daughter.”

Hewitt’s lawyer, Terry Price, while cross-examining Tolken, said the letters were taken out of context and referred almost exclusively to her tennis career.

He said the reason he had made the sex-maniac comment was because Tolken had seen him flirting with a group of showgirls and the 12-year-old had called him a “sex maniac”.

Price also got Tolken to admit that her father was a strict disciplinarian, and then implied she had exaggerated her experiences with Hewitt to avoid a harsh punishment for kissing him.

Tolken denied this vehemently. “I am flabbergasted. What he did to me has been embedded in my head my whole life.”

Just before leaving the stand, she was asked why she had finally come forward?

“Bob Hewitt has to pay for what he did… he took my innocence.”

In his plea explanation, Hewitt denied all the allegations against him.

In reference to Tolken, he said she was like a daughter to him, and his compliments and attention were designed to boost her confidence as she was “very shy”.

He admitted he gave her hugs and kisses, and this may have made her embarrassed. Later, she had given him a gold engraved pen and a teddy bear as gifts.

Hewitt said Tolken’s story had changed in numerous media publications where she had spoken, and no doctor’s examination had ever taken place to prove any such sexual activity.

“The decision by Ms Tolken to prosecute me so many years after the event is hurtful and has caused untold emotional damage to myself, my wife and my family. No matter what happens in this trial, I will never recover from these accusations,” the explanation states.

Hewitt claimed he had numerous boys and girls he had coached over the years who could testify in favour of his character.

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