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Former tennis star Bob Hewitt jailed for rape in South Africa

A South African court has imposed six years jail on retired tennis doubles champion Bob Hewitt for raping and assaulting girls he once coached. Hewitt had pleaded not guilty to charges raised by victims in 2013.

The High Court in Pretoria on Monday sentenced the Australian-born Hewitt, now 75, on two counts of raping girls whom he coached in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. The victims were then 12 years old.

Hewitt was sentence to eight years in jail for two counts of rape, with two years suspended. On a third charge of sexual assault, the court handed down a two-year jail term; all the sentences were to be served simultaneously.

Hewitt had pleaded not guilty. Local South African media said his lawyers planned to appeal the sentences on Tuesday.

'Justice must be seen to be done'

High Court judge Bert Ban said "justice must be seen to be done, even to aging offenders and even after the expiration of many years after the crime."

Had Hewitt been 50 on sentencing, his term would have been 20 years, the judge added. During the hearing, Hewitt had spoken of poor health.

Outside the Pretoria court, activists against child abuse hung posters that read "child rape = life sentence."

Hewitt was born in Dubbo, Australia, but spent much of his life in South Africa.

Name removed from Hall of Fame

He won numerous Grand Slam doubles tennis titles in the 1960s and 1970s. He also helped win the 1974 Davis Cup with South Africa where he resettled.

In 1992 he was named a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

His named was removed in 2012 following sexual abuse allegations, which also surfaced in the United States where he once lived.

ipj/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)