SANDF to consider allowing female Muslim members to wear headscarves

The issue came to light after Major Fatima Isaacs was slapped with disciplinary action for refusing to remove her hijab.

FILE: Members from various SANDF units seen during a march through the streets of Sophiatown, Johannesburg on 9 November 2013. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is considering relaxing its dress code for female Muslim members to allow them to wear headscarves under their berets.

The issue came to light after Major Fatima Isaacs was slapped with disciplinary action for refusing to remove her hijab.

Isaacs, who works as a clinical forensic pathologist at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg, has been charged with willful defiance and disobeying a lawful command.

The defence force and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) met this week to discuss the matter with the legal representatives of Isaacs. She faces disciplinary steps for not adhering to a command to not wear a headscarf with her military uniform.

The SANDF and the MJC have resolved to continue working together to find common ground.

Chaplain-General Monwabisi Jamangile said: “The SANDF is committed to ensuring the issue of Muslim women wearing a headscarf and related matters be addressed in terms of their policies."

Talks were amicable and constructive and the SANDF committed to ensuring the issue of Muslim women wearing a headscarf be addressed in its policies.

The SANDF said interim relief to allow Muslim women serving in the military will be undertaken.

“A determination is under consideration to granting interim relief to women serving the SANDF to wear an under scarf to conformity to the SANDF code,” Jamangile added.

It's however unclear when this process will take place.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)