The origins of the South African Koi Keepers Society can be traced back to an incident in the bush of the African savanna. Terry Sole’s son was killed 1987. A grieving father was advised by his doctor to take a break from his immediate environment to relieve the stress and terrible heartache. Terry had been collecting koi since 1970 and decided to spend a few weeks in Japan for the tranquillity and beauty.

In Japan, Terry met well known dealer Yoshida san and Nakamori san. Terry wondered how he could expand the hobby in South Africa. During conversations with these two gentlemen they advised him that if he wanted to expand the interest in koi in South Africa the formation of a Koi Society was the best way to go about it.

Returning to South Africa with the motivation to form a Society and koi that he had bought in Japan. Terry contacted dealers whom he knew were selling koi. Barry Engelbrecht was the first to be contacted. Terry requested a list of customers from the few dealers and his quest to begin the Society began.

The seeds were planted, ideas were discussed between koi enthusiasts on how best to form a Society, develop a logo, and get koi keepers together.

The heart of South African koi keeping

The South African Koi Keepers Society – known as SAKKS - was founded on the 1st April 1988. The inaugural meeting was held at the Corriloch Koi farm of Mike Melanie near Magliesburg. About 35 – 40 enthusiasts arrived to have a final discussion in the formation of the Society.

Ideas were sought, exchanged and a volunteer committee formed with a mandate from the koi keepers present to proceed with the Society, develop a name, approve the logo that was presented, and some basic principles. Well-known names in the koi world were present - Terry Sole, Nic Turner, Ian Hopkins, Chris Neaves, Neville and Louis Marais, Barry Engelbrecht and Ken Sandison. At the end of the meeting 33 had signed up to join the society.

  • Two founding principles formed the foundations of the South Africa Koi Keepers Society:

To promote friendship


To disseminate information on koi and koi keeping


Chairmen of the South African Koi Keepers Society:

  • Terry Sole: 1988 - 1989

  • Chris Neaves: 1990 – 1992

  • Dr Neville Marais: 1992 – 1993

  • Alan Nementzik: 1994

  • Mobin Bhikhoo: Oct 1994 - Feb 1995

  • Mike Harvey: 1995 - 1998

  • Richard Cockcroft: 1998 - 1999

  • Brian Lee: 2000 - 2004

  • Renè Schoenmaker: 2005 - 2006

  • Kevin Harrison: 2006 - 2008

  • Kevin Till: 2009

  • Raj Lalloo: 2010

  • Chris Neaves: 2011

  • Larry Hubbard: 2012 - 2015

  • Harry Beckx: 2015 – 2020

  • Dean Britz: 2021 – to date


  • Tito Voster: 1988 – 1989

  • Chris Neaves: 1989 -1990

  • Lionel Alston: 1991 – 1996

  • Don King: 1997 – 2004

  • Rene Schoenmaker: 2005-2010

  • Larry Hubbard: 2011-2014

  • Alan Ferreira: 2015- to date


  • First Secretary was Ian Hopkins who also did the first SAKKS Newsletter

  • Sarel van Rensburg was Secretary till 1993

  • Sue Marais was the Society Secretary from 1994 – 2005.

  • Maria Anna Botha became Secretary from 2006 – 2013

  • Larry Hubbard was Secretary from 2014 – 2017

  • Jim Phillips 2017 to date


The first year’s membership consisted of 33 members and by the end of the second year it had grown to 90. In 1990 a series of articles appeared in the Farmers Weekly and Garden and Home magazines. Pictures of high-quality koi from Japan were published. These articles created much public interest and the Society’s membership doubled.

By 1994 the membership had grown to such an extent that it became necessary to find a part-time secretary. This position was given to Sue Marais who had been handling the membership database in a voluntary capacity.

The membership of the Koi Society grew as there was much interest in koi throughout South Africa. Membership trailed off in 2008 as the economic state of the world deteriorated and the demographics of South Africa changed.

Of the original members who joined in 1988 the following members were awarded Honorary Life Membership for their contributions and service to the hobby:
Barry Engelbrecht - original committee member
Neville Marais - past chairman and served on the committee for 10 years
Chris Neaves - past chairman and committee member
Sarel van Rensberg - past secretary and served on the committee for over 10 years
Mike Harvey - past Chairman of SAKKS and KwaZulu Natal Chapter
Harry Beckx - past KwaZulu Natal Chapter Chairman
Alan Ferreira - National and KwaZulu Natal Chapter Treasurer
Phillip Muller

SAKKS Health Guide:

In 1988 Chris Neaves and Dr Neville Marais researched and compiled two manuals – “Management, Health and Medication” and “Nutrition” for the benefit of SAKKS members. These were later combined into one manual. More recently Chris Neaves produced the current “Health Guide” – a comprehensive, easy to follow guide to keeping Koi healthy and treatments when needed. This guide is more like a full-blown book than a simple manual.


The first Society Newsletter was a single page and was published in September 1988. The name KOISA was chosen for our newsletter. The newsletter continued in black and white format and expanded in size and the amount of information for koi keepers became substantial and very beneficial. Malcolm Reid introduced the colour format. The newsletter grew into a full colour magazine. These were published every month for many years. Due to increasing costs of printing a colour magazine the Society sadly had to cease producing a hard copy colour magazine. The Chapters now publish their own e- newsletters from time to time. The printed colour magazines have become collectors’ items

Examples of some of the newsletters


The Society logo was designed by Terry Sole and Nick Turner – living jewels (Koi) represented by the diamond, which made it a uniquely South African symbol. The first SAKKS badges were manufactured by Ronnie Tanur, at the time a well-known jeweller in Johannesburg. The first Show badge was designed by Rick Cockcroft for the SA National Show in 1998. Each Chapter of the South Africa Koi Keepers Society has koi badges designed and made for their annual koi shows.

Koi Shows

Koi Shows have been held in South Africa every year since 1990. In 2004 the Koi Show was cancelled because of the KHV outbreak. In 2020 all the koi shows in South Arica were cancelled because of the Corona virus pandemic throughout the world.

On 31st March 1990 the first SAKKS National show was held at Rosebank Primary School. There were only 3 sizes of fish entered and 11 members entered 290 fish. The judges at this first National Show were Mitsuo Nakamori and Megumi Yoshida from Japan. The two people who had given Terry Sole the motivation to form the South Africa Koi Keepers Society. The Grand Champion was a 62cm Sanke owned by Nick Turner and the Show Chairman was Chris Neaves.

South Africa’s first koi show 1990

Hosting the Judges in 1990 Left to right – Chris Neaves, Nakamori, Yoshida, Terry Sole, Nic Turner

A Western Cape Chapter was also formed and held successful meetings and koi shows from 1994 until 2013. In 2015 this separate chapter sadly ceased to exist and was merged with the Southern Cape Chapter.

The first koi show in Cape Town organised by the then Western Cape Chapter was held at the V & A Waterfront in June 1994. There were 104 koi entered by 23 members. The Grand Champion at this inaugural show was an Utsuri of 42cm owned by Willie Geldenhuys.

In 1996 the KwaZulu Natal Chapter held its first show at the Pavillion, Westville, Durban. The judges were Barry Engelbrecht, Ronnie Watt, Mike Harvey, Sarel van Rensburg, Phillip Muller and Pierre Jordaan – the Show Chairman and principal organiser was Harry Beckx.

The Southern Cape Chapter held its first Koi Show (under the auspices of SAKKS) in April 1997 in Oudtshoorn. The Grand Champion was owned by H. Kemp and the judges were Mike Harvey, Brian Welch, Sarel Van Rensburg and Phillip Muller.

In the same year (1997) the Free Sate Chapter held its first koi show in Bloemfontein. We have no record of who won the Grand Champion award but the judges were Denis Hall, Mike Harvey, Phillip Muller, Brian Welch and Sarel van Rensburg.

The first show to be organised by the Eastern Cape Chapter was in 2008 in East London. The judges were Brian Welch and Phillip Muller and the Grand Champion was a Kohaku owned by Blake Squires.

ZNA Membership

1991 marked the beginning of SAKKS close association with the Zen Nippon Airinkai (ZNA) when the renowned Masao Kato and Vincent Chiu, (along with Katsushi Takeda and Mao-Lin Tsai), were invited to South Africa to judge the 2nd SA National Koi Show.

Subsequent to this visit by Masao Kato, SAKKS became a Friendship Club affiliated to ZNA. SAKKS was formally recognised as a full chapter of the ZNA in 1993. This meant that South Africa gained formal recognition in the international Koi arena. The Grand Champion at the 2nd SA National Show was a Showa of 49cm owned by Tony Harrison. The show attracted 352 koi from 18 members.


The original Koi Society was established in Gauteng, a province of South Africa. As the interest in the hobby of koi keeping expanded rapidly across South Africa there was a need to establish chapters in the other provinces of the country. These Chapters served the koi keepers in the various provinces and all Chapters fell under the National Office of the South Africa Koi Keepers Society.

The first provincial chairmen were:
Errol Cooper - Western Cape
Dr Pierre Jordaan - Orange Free State
Charles Barnard - KwaZulu Natal.
Subsequently other chapters were started
Eastern Cape - June and Gene Fincham
Southern Cape - Willie Geldenhuys.

There are currently Chapters in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Free State, Southern Cape and Eastern Cape. Each Chapter holds an annual koi show and the National Koi Show is held in either Johannesburg or Durban, alternating each year between these cities.

Each Chapter organises its own meetings where members visit other members’ ponds, talks on koi appreciation, koi ponds etc are given, and members socialize with each other. The society organises other seminars from time to time.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

Mike Harvey was the first member to receive a Life Time Achievement Award from the SAKKS in 2012.
Chris Neaves received a Life Time Achievement Award in 2016.

Koi Judging Program

The Koi Judging program in South Africa was born out of a number of Society members wanting to raise the standards of koi kept in South Africa ponds. As the quality of imported koi from Japan improved, members of the Society felt that to gain international recognition a judging training program, based on guide lines from the ZNA should be introduced.

In 1995 Ronnie Watt, Barry Engelbrecht, Servaas de Kock and Chris Neaves drew up a program and study material.

On the 1st February 1996 the first South African Koi Judges training program inaugurated. This was a joint venture between the Koi Society (SAKKS) represented by Sarel van Rensburg and Chris Neaves and the SAKBF (South Africa Koi Breeders Forum) represented by Barry Engelbrecht, Servaas de Kock, Martinus Odendaal, Ronnie Watt.

In 1997 the Judges Standards Committee training program moved to the capable hands of Mike Harvey and Harry Beckx. In July 1998 the first training and appreciation course begun.

The South African judging course that was developed by Mike and Harry followed the stringent guidelines set down by the ZNA resulting in international recognition for South Africa Judges. The Judges Training Program has been adapted for use in a number of other ZNA Chapters and is recognised by the ZNA.

As at June 2024 The South Africa Koi Keepers Society has:
Four ZNA Certified Judges - Mike Harvey, Harry Beckx, Rene Schoenmaker and Dean Britz
One ZNA Assistant Certified Judges - Willie Geldenhuys
Four ZNA Local Certified Judges - Jim Phillips, Chris Jankovich, Willem Daffue, and Andre Le Roux
As well as 2 SAKKS Grade A Judges - Clint Chen, and Abraham Wiggill
South African koi judges have been invited to judge all over the world and many friendships have been forged