Bonsai in South Africa will be 80 years old in 2019.  The oldest recorded bonsai tree in South Africa was when Becky Lucas (The mother of bonsai in SA) started cultivating her own bonsai.  Today, her some of her collection is housed at the South African Bonsai Heritage Collection under curatorship by Willem Pretorius and a group of volunteers, (The Best of South African Bonsai...and a little history by Willem Pretorius).

South African Bonsai Association (SABA) is a body for affiliated clubs and individual members to promote and grow the hobby of Bonsai.


Who is SABA?






Caroll Dewar Hermann (Photographed with Juan Llaga and Willem Pretorius) started bonsai in the '80's but having moved around a lot, has nothing left of the original collection.  With settling down in the small rural coastal town of Mtunzini in KZN, started up again in 2003. Her most prized bonsais are her baobabs (all grown from seed) and bougainvilleas rescued from gardens.  Her favourite style is Literati.  She is a lecturer at the University of Zululand and has a registered research project, using bonsai as a psychological therapy tool. She has 3 boys and a husband who carry, dig, turn, mix soil, but refuse to weed.  She is a member of Zululand Bonsai Society and one of the founder members of Ballito Bonsai Club.











Org Exley Joined the Pretoria Bonsai Kai in 1988 after going to their bonsai show at the Transvaal museum in Pretoria and has been a member ever since. He has been on and off the committee since 1990 as a member and vice-chairman. Since 2009, he has been chairman of Pretoria Bonsai Kai. He has been a member of the BRAT committee since 2008 and was vice-president before he got voted in as president in 2012. In 2011 - 2013, he was a member of SABA.

He has a wide variety of species in his collection and propagates trees from seeds as well as cuttings and loves to go  on digs to collect trees, where he collects wild olives and other species for bonsai.  He has most of the bonsai styles in his collection.








Terence O'Flaherty grew up on a farm in the old Eastern Transvaal, somewhere between Nelspruit and Waterval Boven, so Jock of the Bushveld and the ZASM tunnel mean something to him. Schooled in White River and Nelspruit, he completed a Civil Eng degree at Wits (sorry, he is no accountant but is entrusted with SABA’s finances) and now work in Kzn.

While he has dabbled with bonsai for a while, he has only been an active club member for 8 years. He is a member of KENGAI and done a stint there as treasurer and chair. Bonsai gives him a chance to escape the rat race and retreat into his world. He enjoys the forest/group/landscapes but still has quite a few single trees. Having been given one 2 inch B- Davii cutting while in Namibia, which he nurtured and from which he eventually made a number of cuttings, he now favours this species. He prefers to develop the tree himself (with some help now and again) rather than buy one. He does however try a bit of everything and aim to have 5 or so of each to keep him out of the house when he retires. 













Hannes Fritz was born and bred in Heidelberg (Gauteng) and have been living there his whole life (40 years). He started bonsai at the age of 12 and has over 300 trees in his collection.  He started his own club, Suikerbos Kai in 2013. He won the final Young Designers competition in 2006 at the Cape Town convention and his trees have been chosen as top 10 winners at various BRAT competitions. The highlight of his bonsai career was when he was elected to represent Africa as a guest speaker at the 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama City, Japan in 2017. He worked on a sergeant juniper (over 200 years old) supplied by Master Masahiko Kimura.


He works as a goldsmith for Rare Earth Creations in Hyde Park, Johannesburg and assists his dad in landscaping over weekends. He's been married for 15 years and have 2 busy boys.









Ben-Herman Pieterse grew up in De Doorns in the Hexvalley and went to Paarl Boys High where he matriculated in 2001.  He works for Old Mutual as a Wealth Planner and he also finished his post- graduate in financial planning while working for them. His practice mainly focuses on clients in the Agri sector creating work-optional life styles while protecting assets and legacy. 


He got addicted to Bonsai about 6 years ago buying the usual bad stuff at nurseries.  His first real experiences was getting to know Gail & Lionell at Bishopsford, which soon followed with Steven & Ronel at Stonelantern and his first workshop was with Ras Smal. He also spent many a happy day learning with Rudi and Jan-Jurie at Olive Grove.


Three years ago he entered the world of Bonsai clubs and settled on Boland Bonsai where he met similar minded Bonsai nuts helping him to expand his knowledge and more recently, theystarted a sister club to Boland in Worcester with an exceptional member count of six and loving it.






The SABA Executive Committee (EXCO) is an elected body of executives chosen to manage the affairs of SABA.

They promote, co-operation between South Africa Bonsai and Associated arts and International Bonsai, irrespective of race, colour, creed or national origin for the purpose of improving the art, skills and image of Bonsai.

They serve as the official accredited representative of members in matters of national and international concerns and to nominate a person or persons to act as representative(s) of the Association.

They promote and provide information on Bonsai through activities such as symposia, conventions, demonstrations, workshops, newsletters, magazines, websites and other meetings.

The National Convention is hosted by an affiliated member club under the auspices of SABA.

They are responsible for the definition, maintenance and implementation of Bonsai policy for South Africa.

They honour the autonomy and undisturbed identity and authority, of all member clubs. They maintain SABA’S image locally and internationally.


The 2017 - 2019 SABA EXCO Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies and Action Plan
  1.  Vision – 

    1. Become recognised as a significant world association (artists and material) and make a positive contribution to developing bonsai in South Africa. 

  2. Mission – 

    1. To represent, promote and unite all bonsai and associated arts, clubs and associations, to the benefit bonsai in South Africa. 

    2. To create a platform for, representation, promotions and unification of all bonsai clubs, to develop, train and nurture clubs, artists and bonsai in South Africa into a world leading organisation by gaining world recognition for South African styles, artists and trees.

    3. To keep the Constitution current and updated.

  3. Objectives by end 2019

    1. To formalise nomination, voting and election procedures

    2. To develop transparent and fair participation in Social Media Engagement, New Talent competitions and Lifetime Achiever awards.

    3. To increase club participation 

    4. To increase SABA memberships by 5% per year.

    5. To host an African convention (ABC5) every 4 years.

    6. To host of a National convention each year (mini and major alternative years)

    7. To introduce and establish SA styles as world recognised styles.

    8. To increase participation in the New Talent competition which is held a regional level and finally at National level.

    9. To standardise judges, and judging formats

    10. To update the logo

    11. To review the Constitution

  4. Strategies

    1. By developing clear nomination, voting and election protocols

    2. By consulting and developing Social Media Engagement, New Talent and Lifetime Achiever protocols

    3. By affording non-SABA members an opportunity to join SABA as individualsor SABA affiliated clubs

    4. By creating a division for workshops, working groups, social clubs, ie Ballito (fledgling clubs)

    5. By exposure via TV, media, social media

    6. Drawing up policies for New Talent judging, etc.

    7. By promoting New Talent participation at club and regional level through communication in newsletters and exposure of winners.

    8. By setting formalised standards for judges and judging

    9. By designing a new logo, using a signature tree with history pertaining to bonsai in SA.

    10. By engaging with clubs and regions on inclusions and amendments of the Constitution.

  5. Action Plan

    1. Protocols for nomination, voting and election procedures                OE

    2. Protocols for 

      1. Social Media Engagement                                                         CH

      2. New Talent                                                                                 HF

      3. Lifetime Achiever                                                                      ALL

      4. Judges and judging                                                                     CH

      5. Scoresheet for Photographic Competition                                 ALL

      6. Scoresheet for New Talent                                                         HF

    3. Market survey (done), target non-clubs.                                           ALL

    4. Draft social marketing plan                                                               CH

    5. Source sponsorship for conventions, “spreading the load”               OE

    6. Invite formal media to conventions, events, etc.                               CH

    7. Policies for judging procedures of New Talent                                 HF

    8. Work on new logo.                                                                            ALL

    9. Round Robin and review constitution and protocols.                       ALL

  6. Long term goal (After 2020)

    1. Host a world convention

    2. Become a respected world association

What you can do for SABA?


Be loyal as we are growing!

Take part in activities: National and mini conventions, digs, competitions etc.

Send regional articles, happenings, show details and pictures to the E-zine editor and web master to be published. We all want to know what is happening around us It is a great way to share knowledge.

Spread information and communicate between members!

Keep your club’s administrative information updated with the SABA secretary.

Don’t let the secretary always have to chase.

Respond promptly to circulars requesting information.

Make recommendations for the improvement of SABA

Please discuss your gripes or dislikes with us direct as this is the only way problems can be resolved.

Volunteer your services and support when assistance is asked for.

Please make certain that all club members are informed at all times of what is happening in SABA

Support and loyalty will let SABA grow, which in turn will increase all benefits!


Ask your club or society to join today!!

Individuals also welcome


Participate in the chat…

Visit our Facebook page to discuss anything bonsai related.


Contact:  082 567 7583

Email:     carollh (at)

Additional Members

Who is SABA?

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