By Tauhierah Salie
The legal team of Major Fatima Isaacs has indicated their intention to have the charges against her withdrawn. It comes after a joint press briefing by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) was held at the Castle of Good Hope on Thursday in which both parties committed to addressing the military’s policies regarding uniform for Muslim women.
The SANDF announced that it is considering granting “interim relief” to muslim women in the defence force who wear a head covering.
Major Isaacs appeared at a military disciplinary hearing last month, for “disobeying a lawful instruction to remove her headscarf.” The issue has since gripped the attention of the international Muslim community and has raised concerns of discrimination by the South African Human Rights Commission.
During the briefing however, SANDF Chaplain General, Monwabisi Andrew Jamangile, expressly stated that “Islamaphobia has no place in the SANDF.”
He added that issues of discrimination and Islamaphobia were ‘openly discussed’ and that instances of this will be investigated “should there be evidence”.
“The SANDF has committed itself to ensure that the issue of Muslim women wearing the headscarf and related matters be addressed in their policies,” said Jamangile .
Major Fatima Isaacs’ legal representative Nazeema Mohamed explained that the dress code and implementation of policies needed to be defined.
According to Mohamed, the charges against Isaacs remain. She said this will be challenged.
“It’s been agreed now that the charges are still alive. The legal process will still be continuing. Sister Fatima will appear on the 7th of August and seemingly that matter will be postponed again.”
Mohamed said she, along with attorney Ighsaan Higgins, will be writing to the National Prosecuting Authority to address the issue of the withdrawal of charges.
“Given that there is an agreement between the MJC and the SANDF with regard to interim permission to have her wear her scarf, on the basis of that interim agreement, it doesn’t look as if they have a prima facie case against her. So our request is that the charges be withdrawn from the NPA level.”