South African actor, author and producer Ben Kruger has died at age 64.
Kruger, who was best known for his role as Oom Okkie in the kykNET’s award-winning soapie “Binnelanders”, died at his home in Brooklyn, Pretoria in the early hours of Wednesday.
Elsje Stark, producer of “Binnelanders”, confirmed the news of Kruger’s death in a statement released on Wednesday.
“It’s with great sadness that the ’Binnelanders’ family heard about the sudden passing of Ben Kruger, a much-loved member of our team of actors,” she said.
Paying tribute to the legendary actor, and Stark added: “Ben portrayed the role of Okkie Ferreira for nearly nine years in his own unique way and held a very special place in the hearts of his colleagues and loyal viewers.
“We will always remember him for his professionalism, dignity, humour – and without a doubt for his ability to make the best potjiekos! We’re going to miss Ben.”
Karen Meiring, M-Net director at kykNET channels, also expressed her shock at Kruger’s death.
“We keep Ben Kruger’s family and the ’Binnelanders’ cast and crew in our thoughts, while we process the shock of his passing. Ben was loved by all – this is a huge loss for our industry.”
The 64-old actor starred in several TV shows including “Zero Tolerance”, “7de Laan”, “Jacob's Cross”, “Silent Witness”, “Soul Buddyz”, “Riemvasmaak” and “Triptiek”.
He also starred in the 1997 movie “Mandela and De Klerk”, where he played James Gregory, a former prisoner and later friend to Nelson Mandela.
Since episodes are recorded about three months before broadcast, the character of Okkie will still be in “Binnelanders” for a while.
The show is broadcast on kykNET DStv Channel 144, weekdays at 7pm.