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Bob Hewitt granted leave to appeal sentence only

The convicted rapist's application to appeal his conviction was refused, but his bail was extended.

FILE: Former South African tennis star Bob Hewitt in the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court where he faces charges of rape and indecent assault. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former tennis champion Bob Hewitt's leave to appeal his sentence in the Supreme Court of Appeal has been granted.

But Hewitt's application to appeal his conviction was refused and his bail extended.

Hewitt was last month sentenced to an effective six years behind bars, but for the last month has been at his citrus farm in Addo in the Eastern Cape after his application for leave to appeal his conviction and sentence was postponed.

#BobHewitt can go home. Sighs from the public gallery. GN pic.twitter.com/eB8lmjgrFU

He was found guilty on two counts of rape and one of sexual assault after three women testified that he took advantage of them while he was their tennis coach in the 1980s and 1990s.

Judge Bert Bam ruled on the matter immediately after hearings arguments.

His bail has been extended, which means he can go back to his home in Addo in the Eastern Cape.

One of the victims' close friends, who was in court, said it's a major disappointment.

"Bail should have been revoked while he spends as much time as he wants furthering his appeal process. It is absolutely unfair and disgusting."

None of Hewitt's victims were present in court today.

During proceedings this morning, Hewitt's lawyer Johann Engelbrecht argued that another court would come to a different conclusion, highlighting that the rape wasn't reported on the day.

He said another court could possibly find a non-custodial sentence more fitting.

Engelbrecht argued that a man should not be convicted for something that happened so long ago and that incidents weren't reported, adding that Hewitt had a clean record.

Judge Bam then explained that the sentence he handed down considered Hewitt's age, health and that the crimes were committed years ago.

Engelbrecht then said because of this, there was no physical damage to the victims.

But Bam hit back, asking about the psychological effects.

Engelbrecht said no psychiatric evidence was presented to the court during Hewitt's trial.

The judge told Hewitt during his sentencing last month that no rapist can hide behind their age when it comes to justice being served.

Bam said he considered a number of factors when sentencing Hewitt but added that justice had been delayed for too long.

He went into great detail about the seriousness of rape but also took Hewitt's age and health into consideration.

Hewitt was also ordered to pay R100,000 to the Justice Department to fund anti-abuse campaigns.