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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

National Human Trafficking Resource Line a victim-centred approach to combating crime
2017-08-24

Description: Beatri Kruger Tags: Beatri Kruger 

Prof Beatri Kruger, Adjunct Professor at the
UFS Faculty of Law. Photo: Supplied

As a response to the rising number of human trafficking cases in South Africa and around the world, key role players in various fields have pulled together to come up with workable solutions on how to stop the crime and assist victims. Some of the work being done by NGOs and law enforcement agencies has been supported by insights from research conducted in communities and by academic institutions. According to Prof Beatri Kruger, Adjunct Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State and experienced researcher in human trafficking, support for victims has grown in leaps and bounds with the help of the latest technology. More and better quality information can be collected to strengthen efforts of combating the crime,” she said.

One such technological development is the national Human Trafficking Resource Line, which provides various services, including information on trafficking activities, assistance to agencies working with victims of trafficking in persons (TIP), creating a network from which data can be collected, analysed, and activities tracked, in order to ensure the best service to victims.

The resource line connects callers, often victims of TIP or anonymous tippers, to service providers in social services, law enforcement, places of safety, medical facilities, and government agencies, especially during emergencies. 

Resource line a helping hand to victims

The resource line was established in 2016 and has replaced the previous helpline. This line provides more services and resources than just a helpline. Through partnerships, it works to strengthen local and national structures that can assist victims over the phone. 

Call specialists are trained by Polaris, an American company using international standards and protocols. The call specialists are available 24/7 to take reports of human trafficking confidentially and anonymously. They put victims in touch with service providers for health screening, counselling, and repatriation if they are from another country, and also assist with case management.

Empowering service providers is the key to success

Support for service providers such as NGOs, safe houses, and government departments in the network is in the form of skills training programmes for staff, and a referral system in various provinces around the country. There are good referral partners in each province, as well as provincial coordinators ensuring accountability regarding cases, mobilising services for victims, and coordinating the referrals and response.  

To strengthen the network further, services provided in each province are being standardised to ensure that the right people are contacted when handling cases, and that key stakeholders in each province are used. The strength of the provincial provider network is key to offering victims of human trafficking the services they need.

Human trafficking is a crime that permeates multiple academic disciplines and professions. Therefore, information collected from victims through such a helpline and collated by agencies, will assist academic institutions such as the UFS in furthering their research, while strengthening the content of academic programmes in fields such as law, law enforcement, social sciences, health sciences, and international relations.

The number to call for reporting or providing tips on TIP-related crimes and activities, is 0800 222 777.

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