By Angela Quintal

Former National Intelligence Agency deputy director-general Gibson Njenje says he joined the intelligence service because he was a patriot and not for money.

He was speaking after the announcement that he had resigned as NIA's head of operations in the wake of the spy scandal.

Njenje, together with NIA director-general Billy Masetlha and counter-intelligence head Bob Mhlanga, was suspended more than two weeks ago over the alleged illegal surveillance of ANC businessman Saki Macozoma.

Njenje challenged his suspension in the Pretoria High Court last week, but the case was postponed indefinitely.

On Sunday, Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils announced Njenje's resignation in a joint statement.

The out-of-court settlement has now resulted in Kasrils's lifting Njenje's suspension and the latter withdrawing legal proceedings against the minister.

This means that Njenje leaves the service with all the benefits due to him including his pension.

He was a former director of several companies linked to late businessman Brett Kebble. Njenje resigned his directorships in 2002 when he was redeployed to the NIA but, according to the Mail and Guardian newspaper, he still retains significant shareholdings.

Kasrils emphasised that he accepted a finding by Inspector-General Zolile Ngcakani that Macozoma's surveillance contravened the NIA's operational policy.

Kasrils said he accepted that Njenje had not been involved in the bogus e-mails or involved in any attempt to discredit any government minister or official.

Njenje said he had been recalled from the private sector to the public service by President Thabo Mbeki.

"I go back there," he said.

Njenje said he was happy with the settlement package, which was only what was due to him.

Given that there "certainly appears to be some breach of trust, it is difficult to continue (in NIA)", he said.

"I entered the service really out of patriotism and not for financial gain."

Njenje also denied that he had taken sides in the ANC succession battle.