In this study, a competitive internal amplification control (IAC) was constructed for application in the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction detection of sapoviruses (SaVs). A SaV RNA standard was also created for quantification of the virus. The IAC was included in the screening of environmental samples for SaVs. From August 2010 to December 2011, 51 wastewater samples were collected from five provinces in South Africa. SaVs were found in 72.5 % (37/51) of samples, including four samples where detection was initially inhibited. SaV concentrations ranged from 4.24 × 103 to 1.31 × 106 copies/ml. The IAC successfully identified samples which contained inhibitors and inclusion of an IAC is necessary to ensure the prevalence of SaVs is accurately determined. SaVs are present at high concentrations in wastewater in several provinces of South Africa. This widespread occurrence indicates that SaV circulation in the South African population may be underestimated.