Apleni’s allegations against Minister border on ‘hysteria’‚ says acting DG

02 October 2017 - 17:40 By Kyle Cowan
Mkuseli Apleni. File photo.
Mkuseli Apleni. File photo.

The Presidency has responded to claims in court papers by suspended Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni that the minister‚ Hlengiwe Mkhize‚ did not have the authority to suspend him.

Apleni filed an application with the Gauteng High Court last week seeking urgent relief after Mkhize placed him on suspension.

Apleni argued that the allegations against him were unfounded but also that only the President had the power to suspend him. He wants the court to declare his suspension invalid.

The matter is due to be heard on Tuesday.

Apleni “misconstrued the jurisdictional facts” dealing with suspensions in the Senior Management Service Handbook‚ director-general in the Presidency Cassius Lubisi submits in a responding affidavit.

Lubisi also says there is no urgency in Apleni’s application and the grounds argued were “speculative”.

Essentially Lubisi argues that in terms of the Delegation of Power as captured in a letter which is an annexure in the SMS handbook‚ while the President will through Cabinet be responsible for the deployment of heads of national departments‚ the Minister may suspend the HODs.

Where the employee is alleged to have committed a serious offence‚ the Minister may act against the individual.

“All [that is] required is an allegation of the commission of a serious offence. There is no requirement that the allegation be substantiated or be rational or be justifiable or be based on a justifiable reason or be fair‚” Lubisi’s affidavit reads.

Apleni’s submissions that key Home Affairs projects would suffer delays in his absence were also dismissed.

“The applicant [Apleni] does not provide any factual basis to support the allegation that service delivery and critical projects will be affected by his suspension‚” Lubisi states.

Mkhize meanwhile was too busy to consult with legal counsel to draft an affidavit herself‚ according to papers filed on her behalf by the now acting Home Affairs director-general‚ Jackie McKay.

She did make time however for television and radio interviews where she lambasted Apleni after allegations Mkhize would seek to use his absence as an opportunity to settle multi-million rand litigation claims against Home Affairs.

In McKay’s affidavit‚ she denies it is her intention to settle any matters.

Among the ongoing litigations Apleni listed as areas of concern‚ was a R300-million claim by Double Ring Trading‚ a company the department has accused of fraud. The matter is before the courts.

The others include an application for relief by Fireblade Aviation which operates a VVIP terminal at OR Tambo International and is owned by the Oppenheimer family.

Fireblade wants permission to install immigration and customs services at the terminal but the department has denied multiple requests.

McKay argues that judgment has been reserved in the matter‚ and as such‚ no settlement could be reached.

The Minister denies allegations that she asked Apleni to assist in settling a R1-million claim by a company for which her son‚ Sizwe Mkhize works. Correspondence attached to Apleni’s papers seems to indicate that Sizwe had in fact approached his mother to assist him.

McKay does not specifically tackle the merits of the allegations raised by Apleni‚ save to say that if he believes that the Minister has ulterior motives in suspending him‚ he should clarify what these reasons are.

“It is clear that there is no reasonable basis for the views held by Apleni‚ which border‚ with respect‚ upon hysteria‚” McKay’s affidavit reads.

“In every instance‚ the applicant’s belief is based on tenuous inferences…I submit that the matter is not urgent…and the application should be struck off the roll.”