Saturday Star reports that law enforcement officers in Cape Town can’t sport a beard, a funky moustache or a visible tattoo. In the wake of the case against Major Fatima Isaacs, a Muslim member of the SANDF facing disciplinary action for wearing her headscarf, a directive has been circulated to the city’s officers reminding them they are governed by strict grooming rules. Officers are not permitted to have beards, their hair may not be below the collar of their uniforms, and they cannot have any visible tattoos. Richard Bosman, executive director for safety and security, said that one reason beards were not allowed was because they might hamper an officer in a physical fight.
But the main reason, it seems, is “professionalism” and “commanding the necessary respect”, as explained in the directive. “We expect staff to be neat and tidy at all times as is a standard for uniform services worldwide. They are the image of the City and they must adhere to City standards as employees,” Bosman stated. If an officer wants to grow a beard, he must apply in writing with a motivation, as well as approval from his line manager. If it’s for medical reasons, he will also need a letter from a dermatologist. One officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was concerned about the effect the restrictions might have on those with religious beliefs relating to grooming.
by Chelsea Geach
Ref: SA Labour News