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SANDF drops charges against female officer over hijab

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

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

CAPE TOWN - Charges have been withdrawn against a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) member accused of failing to adhere to a command to remove her hijab while in uniform.

The decision was taken during a brief appearance by Major Fatima Isaacs in the military court at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town on Wednesday.

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

Major Fatima Isaacs was present for proceedings today where the charges against her were withdrawn.

This meant that she was allowed to wear a hijab as part of her uniform.

But her spokesperson, social activist Nazeema Mohamed said that this came with restrictions.

"They're allowing her to take a tiny piece of scarf and to cover her hair but it cannot cover her ears and they don't want it to cover her neck area. Now, for an interim period, we are willing to allow that to continue."

Mohamed said that they were not backing down as they intended heading to the Equality Court.

"We're taking the matter to the Equality Court because we need to address the whole issue of discrimination within the SANDF. The fact that they've withdrawn disciplinary charges doesn't mean that their rules, policies, their guidelines have been done away with."

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