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Dlodlo won't interfere in Apleni suspension

Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo's apparent move to extend the contract of certain acting executives has been slated in a letter by the 'SABC 8' journalists .
Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo's apparent move to extend the contract of certain acting executives has been slated in a letter by the 'SABC 8' journalists .

Suspended Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni will get no reprieve from newly appointed Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.

Despite speculation that Dlodlo might review Apleni’s suspension‚ it has emerged that she met with Apleni last week to inform him that she did not wish to intervene in the matter.

Dlodlo was accompanied to the meeting by her chief of staff last Wednesday‚ a day after she was appointed to her new portfolio after a cabinet reshuffle.

Dlodlo informed Apleni that the matter was near completion anyway and that she would prefer to await judgment before making a decision.

This has emerged in a letter written by Apleni’s lawyers‚ Hogan Lovells‚ a copy of which has been seen by TimesLIVE.

Apleni’s court bid to overturn his suspension was heard in the Pretoria High Court on October 17.

“During adjournment of the hearing yesterday (October 17)‚ the Applicant’s counsel made an undertaking to the court that the Honourable Judge will be informed of the developments which may impact on the preparation of the judgment‚” the letter reads.

“The Applicant was invited by the new Minister to a meeting with her Chief of Staff‚ earlier today‚ 18th October 2017. He was informed that the Minister would not like to interfere with the court process which is at the tail-end‚ where judgment is reserved. The Minister prefers to await the judgment of the court‚ before taking any decision.”

 Apleni’s attorney‚ SJ Thema from Hogan Lovells‚ denied existence of the letter. He did not respond to further requests for comment. Dlodlo’s office said the new minister “has not touched anything at Home Affairs“.

Dlodlo is apparently on study leave until mid-November.

 It is understood that the state attorney received the letter during the course of last Wednesday‚ while the rest of the Home Affairs legal team saw the letter the morning after.

In court last Tuesday‚ William Mokhari SC‚ for Apleni‚ said legal counsel for home affairs would have to continue opposing Apleni’s court bid because the team had been unable to get into contact with Dlodlo to determine her stance on the matter.

An agreement was reached between parties that arguments would be concluded and that the court would be informed if Dlodlo decided to lift Apleni’s suspension. This was after Judge Hans Fabricius had learned of Dlodlo’s appointment during the lunch adjournment and had asked parties whether the new minister’s arrival would have any bearing on their arguments.

Apleni was placed on precautionary suspension in September by then Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.

Apleni challenged the suspension‚ arguing that the minister did not have powers to do so.

Mokhari on Tuesday argued that it was only Zuma who could either suspend‚ discipline or fire Apleni as the president of the country holds executive authority.

He argued that just as the president must hire the heads of state departments‚ he must also make the decision to discipline‚ suspend or even dismiss them. Alternatively the president can confer these powers on a minister to use at their own discretion.

Mokhari relied on a letter from Zuma to the minister of agriculture in January‚ stating that a minister may not discipline the head of a department.

Garth Hulley‚ SC‚ for home affairs‚ presented a letter written in 1999 by former president Thabo Mbeki‚ giving power to ministers to suspend‚ discipline or fire heads of departments. He said the letter was still valid.

Judgment is expected on Wednesday.