The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has amended its dress policy to allow Muslim women to wear headscarves as part of their uniform.
This follows a court challenge by Muslim army major Fatima Isaacs over regulations restricting religious wear.
Isaacs had been criminally charged in June 2018 with wilful defiance and failing to obey lawful instructions after her superior asked her not to wear a hijab (headscarf) under her military beret.
In January 2020, the military court at the Castle of Good Hope near Cape Town withdrew all charges against Isaacs.
As a result, Muslim female soldiers can now wear a tight black headwrap on duty as long as it did not cover ears. SANDF spokesman Mafi Mgobozi told AFP:
The SANDF dress regulation was updated to allow the wearing of headscarves by Muslim (women) according to stipulations in the dress regulations.
The South Africa-based Legal Resources Centre, which represented Isaacs, welcomed the development in a statement posted on Twitter. It said:
The LRC has been engaged in discussions with the SANDF, resulting in the SANDF amending its religious dress policy, to allow Muslim women to wear their hijab with their military uniform.
As such, we filed a Notice of Withdrawal in the Equality Court.
According to an online source, the hijab is a head covering, generally a veil or a scarf, worn in public or in the presence of non-familial adult males by some Muslim women.