SANDF headscarf case: Major's lawyers hoping for ministry intervention

2019-07-10 18:26
Major Fatima Isaacs. (Netwerk24)

Major Fatima Isaacs. (Netwerk24)

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Major Fatima Isaacs, a Muslim member of the South African Defence Force (SANDF) hauled before a disciplinary hearing for refusing to remove her headscarf while on duty, was on Wednesday formally charged for "disobeying a direct command".

Isaacs made a brief appearance at a military court in Cape Town on Wednesday. She is due to appear before a senior military judge next month for the full case to be heard.

Her attorney, Igshaan Higgins said she was handed her warning statements and was formally charged.

He said while the matter will now go ahead on August 7, he was hoping for an amicable resolution before that if the Department of Defence intervenes.

"We are hoping for ministerial intervention in this matter," Higgins said.

He explained that an intervention would mean resolving the matter "amicably among the parties involved in order to respect the right to freedom of religion as it is written in the Constitution".

Higgins and advocate Rosaline Nyman will go on record as her legal counsel on the return date.

The major has been a member of the armed forces for the past 10 years and works as a clinical forensic pathologist at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg.

News24 previously reported that an advisor to Issacs, Nazeema Mohamed, said the SANDF's action was "Islamophobic, sexist and showed a poor attitude towards women" adding that the headscarf did not obstruct any insignia or military rankings.

Responding to the matter, SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi previously said everyone who joined the defence force was not only taught basic training, but about policies and regulations too. 

Mgobozi further said, "As the defence force, we have one culture, which is a military culture. Therefore, all members are expected to adhere to the military culture and code."

Read more on:    sandf  |  freedom of expression
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