Pretoria - The High Court in Pretoria ordered on Wednesday that suspended Director-General of Home Affairs, Mkuseli Apleni’s suspension should be lifted.
Judge Hans Fabricius declared that the (previous) minister of home affairs lacked authority to suspend Apleni. He also declared the suspension to be unconstitutional and of no force or effect.
The judge ordered that the suspension be set aside and he slapped the minister with the legal costs.
The judgment was met by a spontaneous clapping of hands from Apleni and his supporters in court. He told IOL that he could not wait to return to office, as he had been at home for nearly two months. Apleni said it was a pity that he had to return to court to vindicate himself.
His urgent application was heard last week - the same day on which President Jacob Zuma appointed former Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo as the new minister of Home Affairs.
Apleni was placed on suspension by former home affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.
It was argued that one of the reasons provided for his suspension is that he failed to give effect to a verbal instruction by the minister to settle the litigation between the department and Fireblade LTD, owned by the Oppenheimer family.
The court was told that Mkhize met personally with the Oppenheimer family and told them that the matter would be settled.
Another matter which concerned him regarded a financial dispute which her son Sizwe Mkhize had with the department. According to him the minister also wanted this settled, although she denied any knowledge of the issue.
He said he feared that if he was not at the office dealing with these matters himself, the minister will settle these and other matters, which would not be in the public interest.
Apleni, in his application, said he suspected there were, however, other motives behind his suspension.
Judge Fabricius, in a 33-page judgment, concluded that the minister had no lawful authority to suspend Apleni.