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14 Sep 2006 08:38
Wouter Basson says he has no moral obligation to resign from the South African military after it emerged he is still being paid despite not having worked since 1999.
“I have no moral or other obligation to resign the post. I did not suspend myself,” he told SAfm radio on Thursday.
“If I had a choice, I would be back working.”
Defence Secretary January Masilela has confirmed that the apartheid-era chemical weapons expert has been receiving a monthly salary since his suspension in 1999.
Reports said Basson was getting R50Â 000 a month.
He currently works as a cardiologist at three hospitals in Cape Town.
Basson and Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota met this week to discuss the matter.
Basson confirmed on Thursday that he still held a senior post at One Military Hospital in Pretoria.
“I would not able to tell exactly what post, but I hold a senior post and receive a senior remuneration,” he said.
Basson would not confirm the figure of R50Â 000 a month, saying he was not sure what his gross salary amounted to.
“What I get into my pocket in the end of the month is much less than that. You can check it yourself. It would a principal specialist pay package.”
Basson said he would be happy to render a service to his country again, but the decision was out of his hands.
“I was suspended unilaterally, I protested and that’s where we are.”
Basson ascribed the long delay in sorting out the matter to what he described as complicated labour laws.
“There is a whole lot of matters that need to be clarified, and the defence department is doing that with the necessary care and sensibility,” he said.
Basson was acquitted in 2002 of multiple murders, drug-trafficking, fraud and theft after one of the longest trials in South African history.
Basson was accused of leading a series of poisoning plots targeting anti-apartheid activists and involving gadgets such as screwdrivers concealing hypodermic needles and cigarettes laced with anthrax.
Top brass in the military met on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
“Management and the legal department are in a meeting. They are discussing the Wouter Basson issue,” SANDF spokesperson Major Vivian Petrus said on Tuesday.—Sapa
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