Anton Rupert, 89, a South African industrialist and philanthropist noted for his intense opposition to apartheid and support for architectural and wildlife preservation projects, died in his sleep Wednesday at his home at Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. The cause of death was not reported.
Rupert coined a phrase often used in the campaign against apartheid: "If they don't eat, we don't sleep." He used his influence to prod South Africa's rulers to bury what he called "the stinking corpse of apartheid," in part because it was bad for business.
He advocated a partnership between whites and blacks in the strongest terms in a private letter to President P.W. Botha in 1986. Urging Botha to reject racial separation, he said apartheid was "crucifying us; it is destroying our language; it is degrading a once heroic nation to be the lepers of the world."
That year Botha, responding to pressure on many fronts, initiated a series of modest reforms toward racial equality. Apartheid was abolished in 1990 under his successor, F.W. de Klerk.
Rupert rose from modest beginnings to become one of the first Afrikaner industrialists. His family is often featured in Forbes magazine as one of the world's wealthiest, with an estimated $1.7 billion in assets.
The fortune was largely derived from Rupert's success in tobacco, alcohol, mining and banking. In tobacco, his family's interests included such world-famous brands as Cartier, Dunhill, Rothmans and St. Moritz.