About Us

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


They promote co-operation between South African 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 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. See to it that 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, undisturbed identity and authority of all member clubs. They maintain SABA’s image locally and internationally.



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


To represent, promote and unite all Bonsai and associated arts, clubs and associations to the benefit of Bonsai in South Africa. 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. To keep the Constitution current and updated.


  • To formalise nomination, voting and procedures.
  • To develop transparent and fair participation in Sosial Media Engagement, New Talent competitions and Lifetime Achiever awards.
  • To increase club participation.
  • To increase SABA membership.
  • To host a National convention each year. (mini and major alternative years)
  • To introduce and establish SA styles as world recognised styles.
  • To increase participation in the New Talent competition which is held at club, regional and National level.
  • To standardise judges and judging formats.
  • To review the Constitution when needed.


  • By developing clear nomination, voting and election protocols.
  • By consulting and developing Social Media Engagement, New Talent and Lifetime Achiever protocols.
  • By affording non-SABA members an opportunity to join SABA as individuals.
  • By assisting in creating a division for workshops, working groups and social clubs. (fledgling clubs)
  • By exposure via TV, media and social media.
  • Drawing up policies for New Talent judging, etc.
  • By promoting New Talent participation at club and regional level through communication in newsletters and the exposure of winners.
  • By setting formalised standards for judges and judging.
  • By engaging with clubs on inclusions and amendments of the Constitution.

Action plan - Protocols For

  • Nominations
  • Voting
  • Elections
  • Sosial Media Engagement
  • New Talent participation
  • Life Time Achiever
  • Judges and judging
  • Scoresheet for the Bonsai competition
  • Scoresheet for the New Talent competition
  • Market survey (target non-SABA clubs)
  • Draft social marketing plan
  • Source sponsorship for conventions
  • Invite formal media to conventions, events, etc.
  • Round robin and review constitution and protocols

Long term goals

  • Host a world convention
  • Become a respected world association


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

Send regional articles, 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 great to share knowledge.

Spread information and communication 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.

Discuss your gripes or dislike with SABA 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 SABA.

Individuals also welcome.

Mini CV: Org Exley

I joined the Pretoria Bonsai Kai in 1988 after going to their Bonsai show at the Transvaal museum in Pretoria. I have been a member ever since. I have been on and of the committee since 1990 as member and vice chairman. In 2010 I was elected as chairman of the Kai and has held the position ever since. I have been a member of BRAT committee since 2008 that organises bonsai in the region. I was the vice President for 3 years. I was voted in as President in 2012 and I still hold that position. I was a member from 2011-2013 of the National committee (SABA) that organises Bonsai in South Africa. I was re-elected as Vice-President in 2017-2019. In 2019 I was elected as President of SABA. I have a wide variety of species in my collection. I propagate trees from seeds as well as from cuttings and I love to go on digs to collect trees. 2-3 Times a year I go on collecting trips where I collect Wild Olives and other species for Bonsai. I have most of the bonsai styles in my collection. I have ±100 bonsai in my collection and 200+ pre-bonsai trees in containers that have been styled or are in the process of being styled. I have a few hundred cutting, seedlings and trees growing in containers and in the ground for future use. I have workshops at my house every second Saturday of the month. I have done demonstrations at club, regional and national level. In 2013 I was invited to China by the WBFF to represent Africa at the World Bonsai conference to do a demonstration.

Mini CV: John Hecht

I have been a Bonsai “Enthusiast” for over 20 years, even after all this time I am still learning about bonsai every day. Most of my trees are mostly Shohin size 150mm+, with some Mame’s as well, indigenous species, such as figs, acacias, etc, and a sprinkling of other types, about 200, used to have a lot more. I took up bonsai as a hobby, because of a show in the Cape, and have been hooked ever since, this also is a huge stress reliever for me, and the flowers and fruiting give a lot of pleasure. Joining a club, was a massive learning curve, as I had “battled” alone for a long time (before the days of the internet), I serious recommend any new person to join a club and begin learning properly, it is a gag in our club that a new person will get 12 people to offer 20 opinions/suggestions, a lot of fun.

Mini CV – Tola Smit

I have been interested in bonsai since school days but only got my 1st tree a lot later during the late 1990’s. With limited mainstream media on the topic in those years, I found Kaizen Bonsai in the UK on the web and was intrigued by Graeme Potter’s styling and methods and soon afterwards became hooked and slowly started buying nursery material to practise on. I had approximately 50 trees in various stages of development when I joined Nelspruit Bonsai Kai in 2013 after attending one of their meetings and accompanied them on their annual dig in September that year. Before joining the club it was a solo endeavour with little contact with other enthusiasts. In 2014 I was elected as Chairman of the club and has been in that position since. With limited members in the club, the committee promoted the club quite aggressively and staged exhibitions at Ilanga Shopping Centre, the Botanical Gardens at the mothers’ day concert and at some of the local nurseries to create interest in bonsai and the club. The club grew quickly to approx. 70 members but has settled on around 50 paid up members in the last few years. The club joined BRAT and SABA during 2018 and in October 2019 at the ABC5 convention at Safari Nursery, I was elected as secretary of SABA.I currently have in excess of a 100 trees and enjoy working on our indigenous species like Acacia, our figs, Celtis, Commiphora and obviously our wild olives.

Mini CV: Carl Morrow

For over 30 years Carl Morrow has been passionately involved in growing bonsai and has been an active participant in the bonsai scene for this time.Carl was introduced to bonsai by Kenneth Doble (from Óyama Bonsai Kai) in 1987 when he was 15 and since then he has enthusiastically worked with many fellow Cape Town growers. He has been passionately engaged in the art and has lectured at numerous clubs, regional symposia and at National Conventions with a highlight being presenting at Bonsai Europa in 2017, the biggest bonsai event in Britain He has travelled to China, Australia, the United States, Holland, Belgium, Italy and the UK to see bonsai and attend conventions. He enjoys writing about bonsai and has had many articles published in the mainstream media, local bonsai magazines and in international bonsai magazines. He wrote the book “Bonsai Success in Southern Africa” with Keith Kirsten which has been released as a second edition (third printing) and is used as a reference by many South African Bonsai artists. He has consulted on and contributed pictures to 4 other books and has had two of his trees selected as winners in the World Bonsai Contest.Carl has always had an outward view of bonsai, continually seeing what is happening internationally and referring these observations to the state of bonsai in South Africa. During demonstrations, he feels that it is important that audiences are stimulated to think about their art rather than just sit back and watch somebody work on a tree.

Mini CV: Dawn Collier

I was first introduced to Bonsai about 25 years ago when my Husband bought me my first tree, which subsequently died! So, a few years later, I saw an advert in our local paper about the start of a new Bonsai club and decided to see where I had gone wrong. This was not only the start of Blaauwberg Bonsai kai, but this in turn propelled my hobby to new heights as I searched for more information amongst the Bonsai Community in the Western Cape. Early on, I realised that it is a forever, evolving, growing Art form and decided to visit one of the well known Bonsai Masters at the time- Rudy Adams for lessons. I now pass on those valuable lessons to the next generation of growers. I have been Chairperson of Blaauwberg Bonsai Kai a few times over the years and I am currently Chair of CRAB- Cape Regional association of Bonsai. I firmly believe in expanding and sharing your knowledge and that one must try to attend as many conventions, festivals and bonsai activities as possible. It is the only way you will grow with your trees.