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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

New developments in the Faculty of Theology and Religion
2017-08-30

Description: Theology read more Tags: Faculty of Theology and Religion, name change, Prof Fanie Snyman, restructuring, teaching and research 

Bishop JM Khumalo, Apostolic Church of
Christ; Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the
Faculty of Theology and Religion; and
Rev Simon Galada, Wesleyan Church,
at the faculty’s official opening in
February 2017. 
Photo: Eugene Seegers



At a meeting of the UFS Council last year, a name change was accepted for the Faculty of Theology, renaming it to the Faculty of Theology and Religion. This change signals openness in approach to other religions, in addition to those of Christian denominations. This is a development that took root in Europe a few years ago. Furthermore, a growing field of interest is the study of the impact religion has had and still has, even in highly secularised societies. This name change is the first of its kind in South Africa, which means that the faculty will lead the way in transformation and impact-based religious studies.

Exciting times lie ahead
Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the faculty, says of these refinements: “The new name and restructuring of departments will lead to a new synergy that will have an impact on our teaching and research in the faculty. Exciting times lie ahead for the Faculty of Theology and Religion!”

Apart from the change in the name of the faculty, departments within the faculty were also regrouped, with new names. The Departments of Old Testament and New Testament merged to become the Department of Old and New Testament Studies, while the Departments of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology merged and will now be known as the Department of Historical and Constructive Theology. The former Departments of Practical Theology and Missiology became the Department of Practical and Missional Theology. The Department of Religion Studies remained unchanged to emphasise the importance of religion in South Africa and the world at large.
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Distinction of theological disciplines
The rationale for these groupings is the distinction of theological disciplines in terms of the study of texts (Old and New Testament), sources (Systematic Theology and Church History), and practices (Practical Theology and Missiology). One benefit of these newly-constructed departments is that they will be more cost-effective, but the more important advantage is that this will stimulate discussion and research across the various theological disciplines.


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