"Eighty-three per-cent of metro adults feel that corruption has become a way of life in South Africa," said research company TNS South Africa in a statement.
Eighty-five per-cent feel there is corruption in senior levels of government, the survey found.
"What is notable and deeply concerning is that these figures are largely unchanged since 2005," TNS said.
It found similar results in 2005 and 2008. The latest survey found little difference between demographic groups.
"What is also of concern is that these perceptions are held equally by young people as well as older people, suggesting that they are becoming completely entrenched - this is 'business as normal'."
Pretoria residents had the highest responses, followed by Durban. About 2000 adults in South Africa’s seven major metropolitan areas were surveyed in late October/early November 2011.
TNS compared the results of this survey to one they undertook in September in which they asked what South Africa’s most pressing issues were. This survey found corruption was in the top tier of the most pressing issues across all race groups and demographic groups.
"The fact that crime is also in this top tier suggests that South Africa is perceived by metro adults to be a relatively lawless place," TNS said.
"Poverty and unemployment [are] also in the top tier whilst social and well-being issues such as HIV and Aids, housing and service delivery are in a second tier."
It was concerning that there had been no major shift in the perception of corruption over six years, TNS said.
"It suggests that, where there has been success in rooting out corruption in either the public or private sectors [it takes two to tango], perhaps these success stories should be more widely publicised.
"It also suggests that efforts to attack this scourge need to be re-doubled and that, where officials are suspended on corruption allegations, these investigations need to be speeded up so that people can see the consequences of engaging in corruption."
1 273 officials charged with corruption
According to a national anti-corruption summit almost 1 300 public service officials were charged with misconduct for corrupt activities between September 2004 and June 2011.
During this time, 603 officials were dismissed from the public service, 226 were suspended, 134 were fined and 16 demoted, National Anti-Corruption Forum chairperson Futhi Mtoba said.
Another 330 officials were given final written warnings, and 190 prosecuted.
She said money was wasted through paying bribes, and often companies that could not provide a quality service were appointed.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk