Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni.

JOHANNESBURG - The North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday set aside the suspension of Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni because the minister had no power to suspend him.

Apleni successfully challenged his suspension in court by then home affairs minister, Dr Hlengiwe Mkhize. She has since been replaced by Ayanda Dlodlo as minister of that department.

Apleni maintained that he could only be suspended by the president of the republic of South Africa and not the minister.

When she placed Apleni on “precautionary suspension” last month, Mhkize did not give any reasons for acting against him.

The director-general alleged that the minister wanted him out of the way so that the department could settle litigation against it involving millions of rand, which he said he had refused to do.

In setting aside the suspension on Wednesday the court ruled that the minister of home affairs “lacked authority to suspend the applicant” and that the suspension “was unconstitutional and of no force or effect”. 

The court also ordered that the minister pay the costs of the application. 

Apleni said the ruling meant that he was going back to work. The department has not indicated if it will appeal the decision to set aside the suspension.