LETSEPE Thubakgale, the suspended Polokwane municipal manager, received a hero's welcome when he returned to work yesterday.
Though Thubakgale was supposed to report for work at 8am sharp he arrived an hour and a half later.
He told reporters outside the municipal offices that he was held up at a meeting with his lawyers.
Dressed in a stripped suit and wearing sunglasses, Thubakgale waved to municipal workers, who chanted slogans welcoming him back.
The workers were outside the building to show support for striking members of the South African Municipal Workers Union.
The workers took to the streets this week, joining thousands of their colleagues nationally to demand salary increases and improved working conditions.
Thubakgale was suspended by the council on May 28 after allegations of incompetence and of failing to cooperate with other municipal officials.
But 60 days down the line the council had failed to lay formal charges against him.
When the suspension lapsed on Monday without any charges being laid against him, Thubakgale decided to return to work. He was advised to do so by his lawyers, he said.
Speaking to Sowetan while entering the municipal buildings, Thubakgale said he looked forward to executing his "job with diligence, just as before".
"I have given the municipality ample time to deal with my suspension but they have failed to do so. I had no choice but to come back to work," Thubakgale said.
Asked what he would do if the municipality extended his suspension, Thubakgale said he would consult lawyers about the way forward.
Among other charges, he had been accused of inflating the price of traffic cameras the municipality had bought.
The municipality alleges Thubakgale had claimed the cameras cost R700000 each, while they in fact cost R135000 each.
Municipal spokesperson Simon Mokoatedi confirmed yesterday that Thubakgale was back in his office at the municipality.
Mokoatedi said Thubakgale was in a meeting with executive mayor Thabo Makunyane and the municipality's lawyers to discuss the suspension.