The director-general spent a decade at the department and found himself unlawfully suspended last year amid Gupta drama.
Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba has confirmed that the department’s director general Mkuseli Apleni has resigned.
At a media briefing in Pretoria on Monday, Gigaba said “I would like to announce officially that the director-general of the Department of Home Affairs, Mr Mkuseli Apleni, has tendered his resignation, effective end of July 2018, to pursue other career opportunities in the private sector.”
Apleni spent a decade in the department. When then home affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize suspended him last year, he successfully challenged it in the High Court in Pretoria.
The court ruled Mkhize had had no authority to suspend the DG, ruling it unconstitutional. The minister had relied on a flawed delegation issued by then president Thabo Mbeki nearly a decade ago.
Apleni claimed she wanted him out of the way to reach questionable deals in disputes involving the department.
His counsel argued that only the president has the authority to suspend and discipline a director-general. Judge Hans Fabricius ruled in his favour and he returned to work in October.
The Citizen reported last year that insiders believed Apleni was set up to take the fall for the fast-tracking of citizenship for the Gupta family in 2015.
Apleni’s original decision on the naturalisation application was that the Guptas did not meet the minimum time requirements for permanent residence.
He claimed he was overruled by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, who granted them citizenship after Apleni had rejected their first application.
Earlier this month the department revealed it is currently understaffed by about 8,000 people.
Gigaba said on Monday they would announce an acting DG by next week, and was hoping a new DG would be appointed within the next three months.
"I have seen the department at its lowest and where it is now. I know what a diligent public servant he [Apleni] is. He has deep insight of…[the] work and branches of the department," Gigaba said.
Apleni said at the briefing that he wanted to thank government for the opportunities he received.
"The [new] opportunity that was presented to me was in the private sector. I will be joining Discovery Banking. What is important for me is to look forward," he said.