South Africa: SANDF Headscarf Case - Defence Minister Wants 'Amicable Solution'

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has requested that an "amicable solution" be found in the matter involving a Muslim member of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) who refused to remove her headscarf while on duty.

Major Fatima Isaacs is currently facing a military court hearing for her refusal to remove her headscarf, also known as a hijab.

Isaacs appeared in a military court in Cape Town last week, where she was formally charged for "disobeying a direct command". She is due to appear before a senior military judge in August for the full case to be heard.

Her lawyer, Igshaan Higgins, told News24 last week that he had hoped for "ministerial intervention" and that the matter be resolved amicably among the parties.

Speaking at a media briefing before her budget vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday, Mapisa-Nqakula weighed in, raising her concern "about a matter involving a member related to the wearing of religious accoutrements together with official SANDF uniform".

"Against this background, I have requested the chief of the South African National Defence Force to find an amicable solution to this issue at the earliest possible time and report to me," Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Higgins had previously said that an intervention would mean resolving the matter "in order to respect the right to freedom of religion, as it is written in the Constitution".

The major, who has been a member of the armed forces for 10 years, and works as a clinical forensic pathologist at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg, is due to appear before the military court at the Castle of Good Hope on August 7.

Source: News24

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