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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

Louzanne breaks own world record in Switzerland
2017-06-09

Description: Louzanne breaks own world record  Tags: Louzanne breaks own world record

Rufus Botha (left), coach of the athlete Louzanne Coetzee,
went overseas with Coetzee and her guide,
Khothatso Mokone, for a race for the first time.
Coetzee improved her T11 5 000 m world record with more
than 20 seconds in Switzerland.
Photo: Johan Roux

She fought against illness, had to get the green light from medical personnel shortly before her main race, and was very nervous. However, on 5 June 2017, the blind athlete Louzanne Coetzee managed to improve the T11 5 000 m world record with more than 20 seconds.

The Kovsie star’s time of 18:14.27 at the ParAthletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland, was approximately 23 seconds faster than her previous world record (18:37.23). In addition, Coetzee, who works at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State, also improved the South African T11 800 m record to 2:30.18 on 2 June 2017, and her 4:59.54 on 3 June 2017 in the T11 1 500 m was almost another national record.

Carried by UFS and other support
“One could never be ungrateful when running close to your personal best,” Coetzee said. “Fortunately, with God’s blessing, the support of everybody at home, support from the university, as well as my mom and them, it really was a very blessed and successful event.”

According to her coach, Rufus Botha, Coetzee was not feeling well before the event and had to get medical clearance before the 5 000 m. He told her not to run too hard, even though their goal was 18:20. “She ran an incredible final 600 m, which brought the time down to 18:14,” he said. “It was amazing to watch.”

Botha’s knowledge valuable abroad
He enjoyed going overseas with Coetzee and her guide, Khothatso Mokone, for the first time. “His (Botha’s) experience, knowledge, support, and coaching was extremely valuable,” Coetzee said. “It will definitely help me in future: how to approach things, and everything he shared with us.”

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