Muslim SANDF member stands firm on hijab removal
Major Fatima Isaacs, who works as a clinical forensic pathologist at the military hospital in Wynberg, has been charged with willful defiance and disobeying a lawful command.
CAPE TOWN - A member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who faces disciplinary steps for not adhering to a command to not wear a hijab (headscarf) as part of her uniform is not backing down.
Major Fatima Isaacs, who works as a clinical forensic pathologist at the 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg, has been charged with willful defiance and disobeying a lawful command.
She appeared before the Court of Military Justice at the Castle of Good Hope on Tuesday, where the matter was postponed until August.
The SANDF's Mafi Mgobozi said the charges were leveled against Isaacs for failing to adhere to their dress code and she was charged with disobeying the lawful command.
Social justice advocate Nazeema Mohammed is Isaacs' advisor and said they’d use all avenues to have the matter dismissed.
“She never had any problems until colonel Jack Molomo joined. He had been harassing her and demanded that she remove her scarf. When she visited him on work related matters at the office and after she saluted him, he told her: ‘Remove that thing when I talk to you.’”
Mohammed said things escalated after this.
“That's how it started escalating to the point where he then gave her a final written warning and he has now charged her with disciplinary action.”
She added: “She had to appear in the Military Court yesterday on a section 29, which is an administrative part of the proceedings. I accompanied her and appeared with her as her advisor. The case will be formally heard on 7 August, where she will be required to defend herself before a judge.”
SANDF has since replied and said the defence force respected religious affiliation.
“Every person who joins the defence force is not only taught basic training, but also about the policies and regulations, including laws governing membership of the SANDF and its code."
The defence force further said its membership was made out of various religious groups, who were expected to adhere to the same code.