Home Affairs DG Apleni's suspension set aside by court

Mkuseli Apleni. (Gallo)

Mkuseli Apleni. (Gallo)

The Pretoria high court has set aside the suspension of embattled Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni, declaring the Home Affairs minister’s decision to suspend him unconstitutional.

Apleni was placed on “precautionary suspension” by former Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize in September. The department released a statement announcing his suspension but gave no reason as to why the decision had been made.

In the court papers, Apleni said Mkhize’s reasons for suspending him — she charged him with serious misconduct — were irrational. Instead, there may have been other motives underlying his suspension, he said.

Mkhize, meanwhile, has rejected claims that she asked Apleni to assist her son Sizwe in settling a legal dispute with the department involving nearly R1-million.

In court, Apleni argued that Mkhize had no authority to suspend him because he was appointed by President Jacob Zuma and therefore it is only the president who can authorise his suspension.

The court agreed with Apleni’s argument and the minister has been ordered to pay costs.

Apleni can now return to work.

Mkhize was appointed higher education minister in Zuma’s latest Cabinet reshuffle. She was replaced by Ayanda Dlodlo who is now the current home affairs minister.