From the news desk

Hewitt case drawing to a close

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The rape and sexual assault case of Bob Hewitt is slowly nearing its end after the defence team closed its case in the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, on Wednesday.

Judge Bert Bam expected the State to hand in its heads of argument on March 2 and the defence on March 5. Closing arguments would be heard on March 23.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Carina Coetzee unsuccessfully applied to re-open her case to call another witness.

The witness, who is based in the US, was expected to add weight to the testimony of Theresa “Twiggy” Tolken, one of two women who have accused Hewitt of rape.

The Australian-born Hewitt, 75, a former Grand Slam tennis champion, is on trial for the alleged rape of two of his former students, Tolken and Suellen Sheehan in the 1980s, and the sexual assault of a third woman, who may not be named, in the 1990s. He gave tennis lessons to the girls. He has pleaded not guilty.

The US-based woman had apparently told Coetzee she remembered how Tolken behaved on the weekend Hewitt allegedly raped her in Sun City.

She allegedly said Tolken was upset, crying, and wanted to call her parents.

Coetzee wanted her to testify via Skype on Thursday.

Bam rejected her request, saying he was not persuaded the witness would bring any new evidence to the fore.

Sheehan’s parents, Judy and Michael, testified on Tuesday that their daughter did not tell them anything about being raped by Hewitt.

They said they first learnt of their daughter’s allegations through the media in 2011. The Sheehans were estranged from their daughter.

Tolken had testified that Hewitt touched her inappropriately and forced her to perform oral sex on him 34 years ago when she was 12. They were driving to Sun City at the time.

She told the court Hewitt made her take off her panties and told her to lie on top of him in the bath in his hotel room in Sun City. She claimed he tried to put his penis inside her.

When Tolken told her mother what had happened, a case was opened. It was not pursued because it was not opened in the area where the alleged crime took place and out of concern for how she would be treated in court.

A third woman, who cannot be named, claimed Hewitt had rubbed up against her while coaching her in the 1990s.

On Wednesday, another of Hewitt’s students testified in his defence. The woman, who may not be named, said Hewitt was a strict coach but was never inappropriate. Hewitt coached her and Sheehan in the 1980s.

The woman said she had heard rumours involving Tolken and Hewitt, but had personally never experienced anything untoward.

Hewitt’s wife Delaille has testified that she did not believe her husband committed the crimes.

Three letters he had written to Tolken, in which he said he loved her, did not bother her. In the letters, Hewitt had urged Tolken to discuss her female issues with him, stating he had more knowledge of such things.

He suggested he wanted to hold and kiss her, but Tolken had to initiate this. Delaille Hewitt said her husband was expressing fatherly love to a child who came from a complicated home. SAPA

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