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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

Meet our Council: Marius Swart – a Councillor with deep roots in the UFS
2017-07-12

Description: Meet our Council: Marius Swart – a Councillor with deep roots in the UFS Tags: Marius Swart, University Council, Mediclinic, cardiothoracic surgeon, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery  

Marius Swart, Alumni election on the UFS Council.
Photo: Stephen Collett

Marius Swart, a Kovsie alumnus, is an Alumni election on the University Council. Not only is he a Kovsie alumnus, but all four of his siblings and their spouses are Kovsie alumni, as well as all three his children.   

Interest in future decisions at the UFS
He is currently practicing as cardiothoracic surgeon at Mediclinic in Bloemfontein, but has always been involved with the Faculty of Health Sciences at the university.  He spent eight years as consultant in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and recently became a registered student again when he enrolled for an interdisciplinary PhD.  He is currently also supervisor for the research projects of undergraduate medical students.

Thus, Marius no doubt has a substantial interest in the issues and future decisions at the UFS.

Guard against retroformation
"Higher education is a challenging environment and expectations about excellence and human development are being tested.  Transformation is on everybody’s lips, but we have to guard against what I would call retroformation – moving back to old regimes and new forms of exclusion," he says.

Marius is excited to begin his term with a new Rector and Vice-Chancellor.  He realises that many challenges awaits him as councillor on the way forward, but he is ready to pull his weight in Council.

"My own daughter is involved in the challenges students are experiencing on a daily basis, and my wife is supporting a first-generation rural student.  The university should be sensitive to these students.  Empowering them can bring change to communities."

His interests are varied and it is clear that he has a vision for a better world.

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