25 June 2019

South Africa: Muslim SANDF Major's Hearing Over Refusal to Remove Headscarf Set for August

A Muslim member of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) who refused to remove her headscarf, is expected to face a disciplinary hearing on August 7, her lawyer said.

"At that disciplinary hearing, she will be allowed to bring legal counsel," Nazeema Mohamed told News24.

Mohamed said the major appeared before a military court on Tuesday morning and that the matter was postponed.

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 Mohamed said the SANDF's action was "islamophobic, sexist and showed a poor attitude towards women".

According to Mohamed, it (the headscarf) did not obstruct any insignia or military rankings and for the past decade, none of the officers she reported to took exception to it.

Should the SANDF proceed with charges against the major, they would take the matter to court as the action against her was discriminatory, Mohamed said.

Another major, Simo Mbete, based in Port Elizabeth, told News24 on Tuesday that he was told to take off his taqiyah (skull cap) during a morning roll call in October last year. He said he has never had any problems in the past, having converted to the Muslim faith in 2016.

After refusing to take it off, his case was taken to the military court earlier this year where he was found guilty of disobeying a lawful command.

He was fined and had to spend three months in the military barracks. He said he would appeal.

Attempts to reach SANDF spokesperson Mafi Mgobhozi on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

News24

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