Religious rights commission offers to help in SANDF hijab case

02 July 2019 - 06:23 By ERNEST MABUZA
Women soldiers at the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on May 25. The CRL Rights Commission has offered to mediate in a dispute between the SANDF and the Muslim soldier in Cape Town, Maj-Gen Fatima Isaacs, who appeared before the military court last week charged with refusing to remove her headscarf.
Women soldiers at the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on May 25. The CRL Rights Commission has offered to mediate in a dispute between the SANDF and the Muslim soldier in Cape Town, Maj-Gen Fatima Isaacs, who appeared before the military court last week charged with refusing to remove her headscarf.
Image: Reuters

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) has offered to mediate in the disciplinary action by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) against a Muslim member charged with refusing to remove her headscarf.

The commission, a constitutional body that works to protect and promote the rights of people to freely observe and practice their culture, religion and language, said on Monday it had asked for an audience with the SANDF.

Last week, the SANDF clarified that laws clearly state that no other clothing should be worn with the official uniform.

It made this comment on Wednesday as it sought to defuse outrage following the organisation charging Maj-Gen Fatima Isaacs, a forensic pathologist in the SANDF, for wearing her hijab with her uniform.

Isaacs, stationed at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg, Cape Town, appeared before the military court last week following her refusal to remove her headscarf. She will appear again in August.

The commission said on Monday that South African citizens have constitutional rights with respect to freedom of religion and belief, and equal protection and benefit of the law.

“In view of these rights, employers or companies need to ensure that their respective dress codes or policies are developed and implemented in such a way that no employee is unfairly discriminated against on the basis of his/her religion, it  said.

The commission said it was prepared to mediate so that an amicable solution can be found.


X