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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

Van Niekerk shines in Ostrava and breaks 300 m world record
2017-06-29

Description: Van Niekerk shines in Ostrava  Tags: Van Niekerk shines in Ostrava

Wayde van Niekerk is in great form leading up to the
World Championships in London in August.
Photo: Khothatso Mokone

Usain Bolt believes Wayde van Niekerk could well be his successor. Bolt, who has won eight Olympic and 11 world gold medals in his career, doesn’t doubt that the Kovsie athlete could take over the reins as an athletic superstar.

This after Van Niekerk broke another world record by Michael Johnson – 30.85 seconds in the 300 m which Johnson set in Pretoria in 2000 – at the IAAF Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on 28 June 2017. He took the honours in the 300 m in a time of 30.81 seconds. In 2016, Van Niekerk also improved on Johnson’s 400 m world record (43.18 s) with a time of 43.03 s at the Rio Olympics.

Unique honour over four distances
Because the 300 m event is not run very often, the record will be regarded as the world’s best by the IAAF. According to the IAAF, the 24-year-old Van Niekerk is now also the first man to run a sub-10 for the 100 m, sub-20 for 200 m, sub-31 for 300 m, and sub-44 for 400 m.

The legendary Bolt, who is in his final season, admitted that Van Niekerk could take over from him. “I think he really wants to be a sprinter, because he's set a personal best in the 100 m this year,” he said to AFP.

“He's shown that he's ready for the challenge. He's really down to earth, he's really humble, he's a great person. He listens and wants to be good, and if he continues like this he'll take over track and field."

Great run prior to Czech Republic
The 300 m world record follows after Van Niekerk also ran a personal best time of 9.94 in the 100 m in Velenje, Slovenia, on 20 June 2017. The 400 m world record-holder also became the South African record-holder in the 200 m again when ran a 19.84 in the 200 m at the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston, Jamaica, on 11 June 2017.

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