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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

Six Kovsies included in Mail & Guardian’s top 200
2017-07-28

 Description: Karla Mostert Tags: Mail & Guardian, 200 Young South Africans, Candice Thikeson, Karla Mostert, Lerato Machetela, Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Thapelo Mokoatsi

The Protea Karla Mostert, who is busy with her master’s degree
in Dietetics at the UFS, experienced a wonderful year
on the netball court. Photo: Johan Roux 

Being on the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans list for 2017, gives her a platform to share with South Africa what she does. This is according to Candice Thikeson. “I want to inspire people to follow their passion and pursue their dreams, and Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans allows me to do so.”

The art historian, who is included in the Arts & Entertainment category, is one of six current and former students of the University of the Free State (UFS) featured in the prestigious list. The others are Zola Valashiya (Civil Society), Lerato Machetela (Education), Thapelo Mokoatsi (Film and Media), Karla Mostert (Sport), and Nokuthula Sithole (Politics & Government).

Every year, the Mail & Guardian honours exceptional young citizens under the age of 35 who has made an impact in their respective fields. A special event for this year’s chosen ones was hosted at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg on 29 June 2017.

Making a statement for art historians
Thikeson, a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Bright Young Mind, and recipient of the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary, says she feels honoured. “To me, this means that the impact I am making in the arts is being felt. There are very few art historians in South Africa, and because of this, people don’t often know what this profession entails.”

Inspiring people from all walks of life
She says the reaction from friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances have been overwhelming. “The most heart-warming thing for me has been having men tell me that I inspire them. As women, we are often told that we are inspirations for little girls, but women can and do inspire, challenge, and motivate men too.”
She was appointed as a junior lecturer in the Department of Art History at the UFS in January. This, and being a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, is some of her career highlights. She is also enrolled for a research master’s degree in Art History and Image Studies.

UFS students on the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans list:
• Zola Valashiya (Civil Society) – Co-founder and director, Debate Afrika
• Lerato Machetela (Education) – Psychologist
• Thapelo Mokoatsi (Film and Media) – Historian and academic
• Karla Mostert (Sport) – Netball player
• Nokuthula Sithole (Politics & Government) – Activist
• Candice Thikeson (Arts & Entertainment) – Art historian

View the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans here. 

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