Suspended home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni’s urgent application challenging his suspension has been sent to the deputy judge president of the North Gauteng High Court to allocate a date for the matter to be heard.
The matter was expected to be heard on Tuesday.
“We went to see who is manning urgent court roll for this week, she (the judge) feels she has too many matters on hand and this matter, because of its nature and complexity, she would rather defer it to the DJP to give us a special allocation,” said Apleni’s lawyer SJ Thema.
Apleni was placed on precautionary suspension by Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize two weeks ago. She provided no reason for her decision.
His attorney said the matter raised important constitutional issues.
“Apleni believes the Minister doesn’t have the power to suspend him and that’s basically the crux of the case is that he is challenging the powers of the Minister to suspend him.”
His suspension became effective on September 18.
In an interview with television broadcaster eNCA, Mkhize said Apleni was unstable and delusional.
“We have filed a supplementary affidavit dealing with that, it’s unfortunate that the Minister has not filed an affidavit herself. But we are hoping that the special allocation with a judge dedicated to this matter will give the Minister an opportunity to file an affidavit answering to the allegations that are made in our founding papers,” Thema said.
In the court papers, Apleni said the reason given for his suspension was that he failed to give effect to a verbal instruction by the Minister to settle the litigation between the department and Fireblade Ltd.
He also said that the minister’s reasons for suspending him were irrational and the process followed in suspending him procedurally unfair.
“The minister has failed to show any objectively justifiable reason to deny me access to the workplace based on the integrity of any pending investigation into the alleged misconduct, or some other relevant factor that would place the investigation or the interests of affected parties in jeopardy,” he stated.
He also listed several other matters which the minister was intent on settling, but which he felt had to be opposed: “The minister is interfering with operational matters in the department.”
Apleni said that to date no acting director-general had been appointed in his place. This meant that the department was operating without leadership.
Apleni’s tenure as Home Affairs DG has not been without controversy. The department came under fire 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.