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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

Phemelo crowned Miss Free State 2017
2017-06-09

Description:Mej Vrystaat, Phemelo Lekale Tags: Mej Vrystaat, Phemelo Lekale

Phemelo Lekale, a second-year BCom Accounting
student at the University of the Free State, is the
newly crowned Miss Free State 2017.
Photo: Wiaan Coffee Photography

“To me, this pageant is about empowering young women. It helped me realise my strengths and weaknesses; it taught me how I can overcome my weaknesses and use my strengths to the best of my ability.”

This is exactly what second-year BCom Accounting student Phemelo Lekale sets out to do during her reign as Miss Free State 2017.

Bring about change and make a difference

The Miss Free State pageant aims in assisting young women to reach out to their communities and charities to bring about change. The pageant also aims to make a difference in somebody’s life.

Phemelo, who takes over from last year’s Kovsie winner Mienke van Rooyen, said that she needed to grow and learn as an individual, and that is exactly what the Miss Free State platform gave her.

Excited about the opportunities lying ahead

When the announcement was made, Phemelo was filled with so many mixed emotions she only realised she was the new Miss Free State when Mienke handed over the sash. “It felt like someone was saying ‘yes, I believe in you and the vision that you proposed to bring to the table’.”

Phemelo said she was excited about the opportunities that came with being Miss Free State and the impact that this brand would have on society. “By the end of my reign, I won’t be the same woman I was when I entered and neither will I be the same woman I was when I won the crown.”

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