A relative says an Australian Christian pastor has died in a South African hospital days after he was attacked in Malawi in east Africa during a preaching tour.

Brother-in-law Peter Walker said on Thursday that Salvation Army Major Geoff Friend died in a Johannesburg hospital on Wednesday with his wife and four sons at his side.

Walker says the family has few details about the weekend attack as the 59-year-old walked from his hotel to nearby shops at Malawi on the weekend.

The purpose of Friend's five-week African tour was to train other pastors.

Friend lived in the west coast city of Perth and was the author of spiritual books "Enjoy the Journey," ''Thank You for the Journey" and "A Great Journey."