Veteran actor, writer and producer Ben Kruger, known for his role in Binnelanders on kykNET (DStv 144), has died from Covid-19 complications. He was 64.
A kykNET spokesperson on Wednesday morning confirmed the news of the actor's death to Channel24.
Kruger was known for his role as Okkie Ferreira in the weekday Afrikaans soap Binnelanders, produced by Stark Films, and as teacher Christo de Wet in Skooldae.
He was born in 1957, took part in various radio plays, advertisements, and stage plays with the help of his drama teacher and starred in his first movie playing Dirkie Uys, in Dave Millen's Die Voortrekkers.
Kruger obtained his BA degree in drama from the University of Pretoria. He played Sakkie Bezuidenhoudt in the SABC2 drama series Zero Tolerance; Neef Gert in SABC2's 7de Laan, and James Gregory, a former jailer and later friend of Nelson Mandela, in the 1997 made-for-TV movie Mandela and de Klerk.
After his navy training, he started working as a professional actor in a Jan Scholtz movie, 'n Sondag in September, and the SABC production Die Pannekoekhuis.
Kruger also had roles in series ranging from Tiny, and Gabriel to SABC1's Generations, Jacob's Cross, Moeggeploeg, Riemvasmaak, Silent Witness, Soul Buddyz, Triptiek, Savage and Van Der Walt's Fault, in which he played Paul Kruger.
kykNET, in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, said, "Ben Kruger, known as Okkie Ferreira, in Binnelanders, as well as Mr De Wet in Skooldae, has passed away this morning due to Covid-19 complications at his house in Brooklyn, Pretoria".
Karen Meiring, M-Net director for kykNET channels, says, "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."
"Ons hou vandag die familie van Ben Kruger en Binnelanders in ons gedagtes terwyl ons die enorme skok nuus van sy afsterwe verwerk. Ben was 'n baie geliefde mens en hierdie is 'n groot verlies vir ons bedryf.” Karen Meiring M-Net Direkteur: kykNET kanale ?? ?? pic.twitter.com/IJ00K1lYCg— kykNET TV (@kykNETtv) May 26, 2021
Elsje Stark, Binnelanders producer, says, "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. 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 potjie! We're going to miss you, Ben."
According to kykNET, Binnelanders episodes are recorded three months in advance, which means that the character, Okkie, will be in Binnelanders for the next few months.