SANDF headscarf matter postponed to January


SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) officer Fatima Isaacs will appear in court in January 2020 after being charged for wearing a hijab while in uniform.

Isaacs was charged in June and was due to face a disciplinary hearing in August, but this was postponed to November. According to a statement from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Isaacs appeared before a Court of a Military Judge at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town on 22 November and the matter was postponed to 22 January 2020 pending a decision by the Director Military Prosecutions on the legal representation submitted by Major Isaacs’ legal team for the withdrawal of the charges.

Apparently Isaacs was not previously spoken to or warned about her headscarf which, according to her lawyer, does not obstruct any military insignia or rank. The lawyer maintains the matter will go to court if satisfaction is not obtained at the disciplinary hearing. This is because the attempt to stop her wearing the headscarf is discriminatory and smacks of Islamophobia.

SANDF regulations stipulate no other clothing should be worn with the official uniform, representative of the SANDF as a military institution. However, an exception may be made for religious headscarves.

The SANDF said it reserves its right not to comment on the matter until such time that a decision on the legal representation submitted to the Director Military Prosecutions has been taken.