Having served as the director-general of home affairs since 2010, Apleni’s suspension has come as a surprise to him.
Though he is set to fight the suspension that was ordered by Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, his lawyer, Sandile July, said only President Jacob Zuma had the authority to do so and he was not aware if Zuma had handed over his power to suspend or fire director-generals to Mkhize.
Apleni was suspended on Monday, and a statement issued by Mkhize’s spokesperson did not include the reasons for his suspension. Though it is understood that Apleni was removed from his position for his alleged role in allowing the Guptas to become SA citizens by naturalisation, July said one of the reasons cited in the suspension notice is a dispute with trade unions.
A source close to senior home affairs officials told The Citizen that Apleni was abruptly served the suspension letter in the middle of a meeting.
“He was in a meeting with several of his colleagues in Pretoria when someone from Mkhize’s office entered the room and served him with the suspension notice right there and then.
“They didn’t even wait for him to go back to his office, they just served him the notice right in front of everyone, and he just took his stuff and left.”