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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

Dr Makutoane to present research on world stage in US
2017-06-14

“If the SBL has acknowledged you,
it means the research you are doing
is solid. There are people out there
who want to listen to my paper.”

To present a research paper at an international conference of about 10 000 people and where 100 sessions are taking place at the same time is what dreams are made of for an academic. This is no longer a dream for the humble Dr Tshokolo Makutoane who will share his knowledge at the annual meeting of the prestigious Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).

Dr Makutoane, a senior lecturer at the Department of Hebrew at the University of the Free State (UFS), will be a speaker at the conference in Boston, in the US, from 19-21 November 2017. This after receiving a remarkable travel grant from the SBL to present his paper, titled The Contribution of Linguistic Typology for the Study of Biblical Hebrew in Africa: The Case of Sesotho Pronouns.

Description: Dr Makutoane to present research on world stage in US Tags: Dr Makutoane to present research on world stage in US

Dr Makutoane, senior lecturer at the Department of
Hebrew at the University of the Free State, was
speechless when he heard he will be presenting a
paper at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical
Literature in Boston in the US.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

Scholars from around the world participate
His paper is part of a thematic session on “Theoretical Approaches to Anaphora and Pronouns in Biblical Hebrew” in which scholars from Canada, the US, Australia, Europe and Israel will participate.

The research Dr Makutoane will be showcasing in Boston is about teaching Biblical Hebrew in Africa, and more specifically, pronouns, to Sesotho-speaking students.

“SBL is one of the largest organisations in the world and if you get the opportunity to present a paper there, it is one of the highest honours in our context you can have,” Dr Makutoane said.

“If the SBL has acknowledged you, it means the research you are doing is solid. There are people out there who want to listen to my paper.”

According to the SBL website (https://www.sbl-site.org) more than 1 200 academic sessions and workshops will take place at the conference, co-hosted by the SBL and the American Academy of Religion.

Highlight of researcher’s entire career
Receiving the grant and attending the conference for the first time is the highlight of Dr Makutoane’s career. “I feel very grateful, honoured and humbled. I was speechless when I heard about it. I couldn’t help myself and actually cried,” he said.

The grant, given to only four SBL members – the other three are from Samoa, Nigeria and India – is intended to support under-represented and under-resourced scholars who demonstrate a financial need.

Dr Makutoane thanked his mentors, Prof Jacobus Naudé and Prof Cynthia Miller-Naudé, who assisted him with the application. Naudé is a senior professor at the Department of Hebrew and Miller-Naudé a senior professor and head of the department.

Dr Makutoane, who studied Theology at the UFS and is a minister at the NGKA Rehauhetswe church near Bloemfontein, is also grateful to his church that gave him the opportunity to study at the UFS and be able to work at the university.

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