Former tennis doubles star Bob Hewitt’s lawyer indicated on Wednesday he will apply for his client’s discharge in the rape and indecent assault case against him.
Terry Price asked Judge Bert Bam in the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, for a postponement so he could prepare an application in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedures Act.
Bam adjourned proceedings until Thursday 9.30am.
Price said he needed to research constitutional law around his client’s right to a fair trial.
Section 174 states: “If, at the close of the case for the prosecution at any trial, the court is of the opinion that there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence referred to in the charge… it may return a verdict of not guilty.”
Hewitt, 75, faces two charges of rape and one of indecent assault. He has pleaded not guilty.
On Wednesday prosecutor Carina Coetzee closed the State’s case after three days of trial.
Three women have testified about Hewitt’s behaviour when he coached them in the 1980s and early 1990s.
On Monday, Theresa Tolken told the court Hewitt touched her inappropriately 34 years ago and forced her to perform oral sex on him when she was 12 and 13. He also allegedly raped her at Sun City.
On Tuesday, Suellen Sheehan said Hewitt raped her in his car under some trees before tennis practice in Boksburg one day in 1982, when she was 12.
Earlier on Wednesday a woman, who may not be named to protect her identity, testified Hewitt rubbed himself against her back in an inappropriate manner during their private tennis lessons.
Price put it to her that she may have mistaken tennis balls stored in Hewitt’s shorts for an erect penis. She dismissed this possibility, even though she said that at the time she had not understood what he was allegedly doing.
In her evidence-in-chief she said: “There were quite a few incidences that made me feel scared, frightened… it didn’t seem right.
“At the time, I didn’t know what was happening.”
She maintained that despite her innocence, she felt uncomfortable.
Price said: “I want to put it to you, you are looking for an excuse to convince his lordship it was a penis?”
Price questioned why she had not told her parents about the alleged abuse earlier, if she felt uncomfortable.
“You put up with this for three years, why?”
“It is a very difficult situation,” she said.
“At first you imagine you are imagining the situation… Then you feel it’s too late to say something, people might say you were part of it or you enjoyed the attention.”
Price asked whether it was possible Hewitt thought she was not a good enough tennis player, after she testified he had told her mother she was not mentally strong enough for the game.
“That was more to drive a wedge between myself and my parents… He would be there like a shoulder to cry on.”
Earlier she told the court: “At a private lesson, he was quite jovial… we were discussing tactics, and he said to me ‘Rape is enjoyable in all cases and if I rape you, you need to lie down and enjoy it’,” she said.
Price said Hewitt “emphatically denied” saying this.
The woman said: “I was shocked and I think maybe he realised he had pushed a button.
“By the time I got home he had phoned my mother and told her he doesn’t think I have the mental toughness for tennis.”
Price put it to her: “At the end of the day, he made it very clear to your parents he wasn’t satisfied with you?”
She replied “I am not aware of that. He could see by the way I acted he had overstepped the boundaries.” SAPA