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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence
2017-06-07

Description:First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence Tags: First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence

Ladies from the House Harmony, a unique residence
that focuses on first-years’ experience.
Photo: Supplied

A unique residence that focuses on first-years’ experience, is exactly what Harmony sets out to provide for all first-year students at the University of the Free State.

A residence focusing on mentoring

Entering the adult world can be a daunting experience, but Harmony, unlike other residences on campus, focuses on mentoring. Harmony came to life in 2014 and has assisted many first-years in adapting to the university environment.

According to Pulane Malefane, Residence Head of House Harmony, they have witnessed a significant change in the pass rate of first-year students. “We have realised that first-years gain confidence much quicker than in other residences where they still need to find their way around seniors,” she says.

Adapting to the varsity environment

Harmony makes use of a Residence Assistants (RA) system, not Residence Committees (RC). The RA stay in corridors with their mentees in order to have close contact with them. An RA’s primary role is to be a mentor to first-years and also expose them to different co-curriculum activities on campus. They assist them in adapting to the varsity environment quicker, so as to be able to focus and concentrate on their academics.

Nicole Rabe, RA First-years, says the Harmony belles never cease to amaze her. “Watching these first-years grow from the high school girls that arrived at the start of this year, to the independent women they are now, has truly been a blessing.”

Malefane mentions that they intentionally try to place students from one faculty in the same corridor. In that way, mentors and residence assistants are in close proximity to them. “We have study rooms in each and every corridor of Harmony, making it easy for students to study close to their rooms at any time,” she says.

Phathutshodzo Nekhavanmbe, a first-year LLB student, says she could not have asked for a better house to be placed in. “The Harmony experience has been great so far, as the people living there are approachable and eager to lend a helping hand.”

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