NATIONAL NEWS - Convicted rapist Bob Hewitt’s parole, which was suspended after an intervention by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, pointed to a weakness in organs of state not taking the scourge of violence against women seriously, according to an expert.
Lamola stepped in on Sunday to declare Hewitt’s parole would be taken on review because his victims were never consulted. Hewitt – once a household name on the international professional tennis circuit – was convicted in March 2015 for raping two teenage tennis pupils and sexually assaulting a third in the 1980s and 1990s.
Jailed in September 2016 following an unsuccessful Constitutional Court appeal, he had served three of the six years of his sentence and was due to be released on September 23 under what was said to be the “high risk” category.
University of Cape Town (UCT) academic and director of safety and violence initiative Dr Guy Lamb said the parole board’s decision demonstrated “a mismatch between what President Cyril Ramaphosa seeks to achieve – which the parole board has undermined”.
Lamola expressed “grave concern at lack of participation by the victims of crimes in the parole consideration process”.
Since news broke of the rape and killing of 19-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, allegedly by a 42-year-old post office employee, Ramaphosa has taken a hard stance on violence against women, calling for much stiffer sentences.
Said Lamb: “The parole board debacle clearly shows that some organs of state are not taking the message on the scourge of violence against women seriously.”
Consultation with victims, said Lamb, was a legal requirement for the parole board.
“This is similar to the release of Clive Derby-Lewis in May 2015 on medical parole without taking into account the concerns of the family of slain SA Communist Party leader Chris Hani and their input being sought,” said Lamb.
Also slamming the parole board’s decision was advocacy body Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA), who described it as “shameful”. Its director Miranda Jordan said: “WMACA is relieved that Tania Koen and advocate Hannelie Bakker, acting for victim Olivia Jasriel, have managed to effect a statement from … Lamola that has suspended Hewitt’s parole pending a review by the correctional supervision and parole review board.
“It is hardly fair to [Hewitt’s] victims that there seems to be a continued need for them to exert pressure to see him kept behind bars.”