Jonathan Ball, who established the publishing house carrying his name in 1976, has died in Cape Town of cancer.
He was 69.
Eugene Ashton, chief executive of Jonathan Ball Publishers, confirmed Ball's death to News24.
Asked for comment, Ashton said: "Jon hated soundbites. But he will be missed."
Ball rocked the political establishment in 1978 when he published the controversial book The Super-Afrikaners, which exposed the extent to which a secretive organisation influenced South African society.
He was surrounded by his children when he died, just after 15:00 on Saturday.
Jonathan Ball Publishers and News24 are subsidiaries of Media24.
This is a developing story.