A Fresh Perspective on Historical Sexual Abuse: The Case of Hewitt v S 2017 1 SACR 309 (SCA)
du Toit, P
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Sexual crimes continues to be a scourge in our society. It is therefore not surprising that the prevention and criminalisation of sexual crimes in South Africa has received a large amount of attention over the last few years. Contrarily, the matter of historical sexual abuse has received only occasional consideration. Cases of historical sexual abuse present numerous challenges to all parties involved. The victims of historical sexual abuse, often children at the time, are now adults. Some of these victims might not want to relive the experience or confront the offender. On the other hand, the offender might have been rehabilitated and become a respected citizen. In Hewitt v S 2017 1 SACR 309 (SCA) the Supreme Court of Appeal heard the appeal against the sentence of Bob Hewitt, a retired tennis champion. He was convicted of committing numerous sexual offences against young girls. The first of these crimes was committed more than three decades ago. This case note analyses the decision by the SCA while it also examines historical sexual abuse more generally in South Africa as well as in England and Wales, in order to establish whether any lessons can be learned from previous cases and laws as implemented in these countries.