The National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has said that Home Affairs Director-General Mkhuseli Apleni was placed on “precautionary suspension” for insubordination.
The ministry released a short statement on Monday announcing the suspension, but provided no reasons for it.
Nehawu, in a statement on Tuesday, has accused Apleni of running the department with an “iron fist” and ruling over its workers, some of whom are represented by the union, with a “reign of terror”.
However, Nehawu did not elaborate on what insubordination Apleni was suspended for and the ministry has still not given any reasons.
“Only Number One can suspend Apleni”
Apleni’s lawyer, Sandile July from Werksmans Attorneys, confirmed that he would be challenging the suspension.
July said that Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize suspended Apleni, but it is only President Jacob Zuma who can take such action. Zuma, July argued in an interview with Power FM, had appointed Apleni.
“We are not aware of any delegation that has been given by the president to the minister to suspend. If there is such delegation, we would want to see it,” July said.
Apleni’s tenure at the department of Home Affairs has not been without controversy, with the department coming under sharp scrutiny after it emerged that former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba had granted the Gupta family citizenship, despite a senior official having previously turned down the request.