A woman has claimed she is the victim of religious discrimination after her licence for a firearm was refused because she wore a headscarf in her application photo. Picture: Supplied.
A woman has claimed she is the victim of religious discrimination after her licence for a firearm was refused because she wore a headscarf in her application photo. Picture: Supplied.

Parly committee demands answers over Joburg woman wearing a headscarf being refused a firearm licence

By Sameer Naik Time of article published Mar 6, 2021

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A parliamentary committee has demanded to know why a Joburg woman was refused a firearm licence because she wore a headscarf.

The chairperson of the portfolio committee on police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, has sought urgent answers as to why Maleeka Sayed’s gun licence application was denied.

“If true, this allegation is a direct affront to the democratic values of human dignity and freedom contained in the Bill of Rights.

“The allegation undermines the right to equality which is clear that ‘the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”

Joemat-Pettersson said the portfolio committee on police had urgently written to the senior management of the SAPS to provide a report with reasons that led to the refusal of the licence.

“If the allegation is proven to be correct, then serious consequence management must be implemented,” said Joemat-Pettersson.

Sayed, who lives in Benoni, Gauteng and first applied in July 2020 for her licence said: “Twice in the recent past my father was hijacked outside our gate as he went for Salat al-fajr (dawn prayers). If I had my licence I could have shot in the air to scare the hijackers away using my gun.”

“At the beginning, there were delays due to Covid-19, which I understood.

“On January 21 (Colonel Godi) Msindo phoned me and said he had a problem with my application picture as I was wearing my headscarf. I tried to explain about my religious beliefs as well as religious responsibility, and he said he would try to explain to his supervisors.

“My application was moved to consideration, the last step in the licence approval process, and a few days later refused.

“On February 8, I phoned Msindo and he told me that there was nothing wrong with my application/motivation. However, he said it was most probably rejected because of the headscarf.

“I am a Muslim woman who has worn a headscarf when applying for my ID card, passport as well as for my firearm competency and at none of those times was my headscarf a problem.

Following Msindo’s response, Sayed wrote an email to the office of the national commissioner of SAPS Brigadier Ali Mathebula.

Mathebula responded to Sayed: “The complaint is noted and is being investigated through SAPS complaints nodal point.”

SAPS spokesperson Brenda Muridili said: “The complaint received was forwarded to the Visible Policing division to deal with it further.

The Saturday Star

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