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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

Perseverance is key for 2017 Abe Bailey recipient
2017-08-23

 Description: Gosego Moroka Tags: Abe Bailey Travel Bursary, Gosego Moroka, 2017 Abe Bailey, Goodenough College 

Gosego Moroka, recipient of the 2017 Abe Bailey Travel Bursary,
says his never-say-die attitude is what helped him win the bursary
the second time round.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin


A valuable life lesson can be learned from Gosego Moroka. The fourth-year LLB student was in the top three for the 2016 Abe Bailey Travel Bursary which was awarded to Candice Thickeson. And now in 2017 Moroka is the recipient.

“It means the world to me as it shows that perseverance is the key. I took last year’s loss as a lesson which I would use to improve as a candidate this year and I’m ecstatic that it came full circle.”

Bursary aims to broaden views

The educational tour will start on 21 November 2017. “We will be travelling to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and then to London, Oxford and Cambridge universities in England, as well as Edinburgh University in Scotland,” Moroka says. The tour group will be hosted by Goodenough College in England. The bursary aims to broaden the views of young South Africans by providing outstanding students the opportunity to engage with students from other universities. 

Comprehensive application process
The application process starts with a motivation letter by the applicants stating the reason for applying. They must then submit letters detailing their leadership roles in the community, school, and at university. This is followed by an interview process. “The university will recommend three persons as possible bursars,” Moroka says. The Abe Bailey Trust will then, with the recommendation of the university, make its own decision in selecting the successful candidate. 

Great achievement adds to repertoire 
“This achievement was extremely important to me as it is testament that greatness is something one works towards.” Moroka is a former 100m South African champion and is part of the Golden Key International Honour Society. And now he is an Abe Bailey Bursar.  

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