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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

75-year-old UFS student follows her dreams
2017-07-17

Description: Hanneke Meyer Tags: Theology, Theology and Religion, graduation, University of the Free State, Dr Hanneke Meyer 

Dr Hanneke Meyer, who graduated from the
University of the Free State, completed her
Bachelor’s degree in Theology
with distinction.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan

“It does not matter how old you are, it is all about where God wants to use you, and I believe that this is where He wants me now.”

These were the words of 75-year-old Dr Hanneke Meyer, who recently graduated from the University of the Free State. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Theology with distinction.

Never too old to learn

Dr Meyer, who was a teacher by profession, says she spent all her years teaching others, and when she had children, she went on to teach them too. She then decided it was time for her to get back to her books and become a student again.

After her retirement, Dr Meyer sat quietly and thought what it was that she actually wanted to do in life. She then decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Theology but only registered for a few subjects.

“I registered for a few subjects but as time went by, I felt that this was something that I really wanted to do, and this was something that I wanted to finish. I believed that this would be the course where God would use me for His kingdom.”

UFS faculty best of its kind
Dr Meyer said completing this degree was completely worth it. She would do it over and over again if she could. “I am proud of this university and the faculty too. I believe that the Faculty of Theology and Religion is the best of its kind in the country.”

She encouraged the youth to continue learning. “Don’t ever stop learning. Always be a student because one is never too old to learn.”

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