KwaZulu-Natal police are awaiting feedback from the national office whether religious wristbands will be allowed in their dress code.
This follows complaints from 24 police officers who were told by Pinetown station commander Brigadier Owen Zama to remove red strings, a Hindu symbol of protection, from their wrists.
Zama told Hindu officers last month that the strings were in violation of the police dress code.
One officer complained to the provincial commissioner, followed by another 23 who lodged complaints with cluster commander James Sayer this week.
“This office’s concerns regarding the wearing of red strings and skins [worn by Zulu officers] by members of the SA Police Service has been forwarded to the national office for consideration in terms of amending the dress orders,” said provincial police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker.
“We’re a national department and therefore only the national office can amend the dress orders. We are currently awaiting feedback from legal services.”
The S A Human Rights Commission yesterday confirmed it had received a complaint against the removal of the red strings.
“I can confirm we have received a complaint. I have to check how many complaints were made, but I can confirm a complaint has been made,” said commission spokesman Vincent Moaga.
KwaZulu-Natal transport, community safety and liaison spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said the department would seek clarity from the police.
“We must get clarity before we can make a decision if the department needs to investigate,” he said.
Ncalane said officers were well aware of the strict code of conduct, therefore it was “interesting to see them challenge it”.
“Before joining, police officers are made aware of the code of conduct of national symbols and people willingly join,” he added.
A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was surprised only Pinetown officers were asked to remove the red strings but officers at other stations were still allowed to wear them.
“We have been wearing these strings for years. Why were we only told to remove them now?”
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