Muslim SANDF major allowed to wear headscarf - under set restrictions

22 January 2020 - 17:04 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Chaplain-general Monwabisi Jamangile and Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) president Sheikh Irafaan Abrahams during a media briefing about SANDF soldiers wearing headscarves.
Chaplain-general Monwabisi Jamangile and Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) president Sheikh Irafaan Abrahams during a media briefing about SANDF soldiers wearing headscarves.
Image: Aron Hyman

The defence force (SANDF) has withdrawn charges against Maj Fatima Isaacs for  "wilfully disobeying an order to take off her Muslim headscarf".

Isaacs came under fire after refusing to remove the headscarf she wore under her beret.

“The Military Court withdrew charges against Major Isaacs. She is allowed to wear her head wrap subject to certain restrictions. The restrictions are that her head wrap must not cover her ears, it must be wrapped tightly and must be plain black in colour,” the Legal Resources Centre confirmed on Wednesday.

During a previous hearing, Isaacs received “interim relief” from the military, allowing her to continue wearing the disputed item until a final ruling was handed down.

The relief was granted after an agreement between the SANDF and Muslim Judicial Council of SA.

The chair of parliament's portfolio committee on defence and military veterans, Cyril Xaba, had previously called on the defence force to find an amicable solution.

“The SANDF needs to find a solution that is befitting to both parties, keeping in mind protocols that regulate order and discipline in the defence force, but also the imperatives of the bill of rights enshrined in the constitution,” he said.

Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula expressed her satisfaction with the outcome.


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