This emerged from a report on the country's mortality rate, released by statistician general Pali Lehohla in Phuthaditjhaba, Free State on Thursday.
"Differentials show that [TB] was the leading underlying natural cause of death for both males and females in all provinces, except Free State and Limpopo, and among those aged 15-64 years," the report showed.
Deaths due to diabetes were up by 3.8% during the same period.
The report was based on deaths registered at the home affairs department between 1997 and 2010 to show trends in mortality and causes of death.
Statistics South Africa deputy director-general Kefilwe Masiteng said fewer people had been dying since 2009.
"A total of 543 856 deaths occurred in 2010, which was a 6.2% decline from 579–711 deaths that occurred in 2009," said Masiteng, quoting from the report.
The report revealed that most deaths reported in 2010 were in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng among black males aged between 30 and 39.
"Furthermore, the majority of those who died in 2010 died in the provinces in which they usually lived. About a third of all deaths took place at home," according to the report. Nearly 10% of deaths were due to non-natural causes in 2010.
"Most non-natural causes resulted from other external causes of accidental injury. Deaths due to transport accidents and assault contributed around 10% each cause to the overall number of non-natural causes," the report stated. – Sapa