Durban - The last administrator of the province of Natal before it became KwaZulu-Natal, Cornelius Botha, has died at the age of 81, a family member said on Thursday.

Botha's son-in-law Mark Willemse said Botha was admitted to hospital a few weeks ago with gastroenteritis.

He weakened, and died of heart failure on Thursday morning. Botha was born in Upington in the Northern Cape and grew up in Parys in the Free State.

He graduated from Stellenbosch University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and served on the student representative council.

Botha, better known as Con Botha, was a member of the then National Party and held the Umlazi constituency until 1990, when he was appointed administrator of the province.

After the 1994 elections and the appointment of Dr Frank Mdlalose as premier of the province, Botha joined the then Democratic Party, but did not hold another government post.

Botha's wife Leonore died in 2009. He leaves behind two daughters and five grandchildren.