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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

Student leaders take the lead by launching SRC Fund
2017-08-24

  Description: SRC Breakfast Tags: Student Representative Council, SRC Fund, Pura Mgolombane, Prof Nicky Morgan, Sikhululekile Luwaca

The Student Representative Council (SRC) launched the SRC Fund
at a Business Breakfast on the Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Johan Roux

     


The Student Representative Council (SRC) is not just asking for financial help, but is taking the lead by launching the SRC Fund. According to different guest speakers at a recent SRC Business Breakfast, the student leadership of the University of the Free State (UFS) is setting an example.
“They (the SRC) are saying to us and to you: We are not just saying that we want free education in our lifetime. We are also prepared to assist government in assisting universities however we can in that direction,” says Pura Mgolombane, Dean of Student Affairs at the UFS.

Objectives of fund

The SRC launched the SRC Fund on 4 August 2017 at the Centenary Complex on the Bloemfontein Campus in order to fight against financial exclusion of students. The fund aims to centre all forms of fundraising initiatives by students, decreasing financial barriers to UFS entry, and utilising and maximising networks within business enterprise, former SRC members, alumni, and student fundraising initiatives. It also wants to help with the creation of exposure and mentorship programmes, funds to assist with registration and financial exclusions, entrepreneur development, partnership opportunities, and increasing employment opportunities.
Initiatives such as Right2Learn will in future form part of the fund, and fundraising initiatives such as The Cycle Tour and Kovsies Biggest Braai has also been launched.

Internal and external partnerships 
Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations at the UFS, says the SRC leadership is not just asking for money. He says they are a “can do leadership” who is asking others to help them to be successful. He also stressed the important relationship between the university and the city and asked that they should work together.
Sikhululekile Luwaca, President of the Bloemfontein SRC, said the SRC wants to “build internal and external partnerships, because universities are microcosms of society”. 
“We cannot do it alone and that is why we are trying to bring the business part of it, the corporate enterprise, to also assist the SRC Fund to become sustainable.”

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