The wife of a police detective shot dead by a fleeing suspect described her husband as a man who was passionate about his job, a loving father, and a committed husband.
An emotional Madeleine Strydom, 42, said she could still not believe her husband of 22 years, Detective Warrant Officer Ben Strydom, was gone.
Strydom was gunned down while trying to arrest a 64-year-old man for alleged fraud in Montana Park on Thursday. When the man saw the police, he tried to escape through another door of the building, but Strydom caught him. The man drew a firearm and allegedly shot the officer before fleeing.
The suspect was pursued by officers. He shot himself and is in hospital under police guard.
An inconsolable Madeleine said she did not want to believe that her husband had been killed when she received the news of the shooting from her brother-in-law.
“I was just hoping and wishing that we would find him at a hospital, not a mortuary,” she said.
Madeleine said the last time they communicated was over BBM when Ben informed her that he had dropped off their son’s application form for high school at 10.30am.
“It was a normal morning. He made coffee and I helped Dreyden, our son, prepare for school. I did not think something like this would have happened,” she said.
Although she was receiving support from loved ones, Strydom’s colleagues, and the community, she was very concerned about their son, who was shattered. “Ben was his hero. He looked up to Ben and idolised him. Dreyden is not taking the sudden loss of his father well,” she said.
Speaking to Pretoria News at the Sinoville police station’s crisis centre, where Strydom was stationed, not far from their Doornpoort home, Madeleine said her husband’s team members were crushed. “I spoke to one of them and he was completely devastated. Everyone is still in shock.”
Well wishers and colleagues placed flowers with messages next to a cross at the back of the police station. On the cross was a photograph of Strydom in uniform.
Sinoville police station spokeswoman Mirna von Benecke said Strydom was a brilliant officer, but above all, a good friend.
“He always wanted to lift people’s spirits. Always joking around,” she said. “He has left a huge void in our lives and we will always miss him,” Von Benecke said.
Strydom was the station’s media spokesman for about a year and half.
Madeleine said Strydom had won an R8 000 damages claim against the police minister in May for wrongful arrest for the murder of a suspect.
Provincial police spokesman Captain Augustinah Selepe said the man who shot Strydom was in hospital in a critical but stable condition.
The man’s wife was also arrested and faces fraud charges.
Strydom’s funeral will be held on July 31 at Lewende Woord Church in Montana at 11am.
- Pretoria News Weekend