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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

Statement regarding pulping of books by the UFS Sasol Library
2017-12-07


With reference to reports in the media and social media since 5 December 2017 about the pulping of books by the UFS Sasol Library, the executive management of the University of the Free State (UFS) would like to put the matter into perspective.
 
The book collection of the library is governed by a Library Committee of Senate, and no books can be removed from the library without formal approval from the committee. The university values the wealth of knowledge preserved in the library, and will not act irresponsibly with its collection.
 
Although the executive management takes note of the comments of some concerned organisations and members of the public in the media and social media the past couple of days, no books were removed from the library and sent to be pulped – only bound journals of which the university has online versions. These are journals that have been removed from the journal section for quite some time, and have not been used for a considerable number of years.
 
The decision to reduce the size of the collection to at least 35%, and to secure remote storage in close proximity of the library in Bloemfontein for some of the collections, was taken after a thorough external review of the library in 2014 as well as a gap review this year.
 
Two aspects were actioned after the review: books which have not been used at all in the past 20 years were moved to a storeroom in the library; journals removed from the journal section which have not been used actively for quite some time and which are not available online or cannot be found elsewhere through any means, will be moved to a remote storage in Bloemfontein and be retrieved as the need arises.
 
The only journals sent for pulping were those readily available online through current subscriptions, journals that the library is not subscribed to but are freely available online, journals that have since become Open Access Journals, magazines that have popular titles and are of no academic value, annual reports of societies and associations, and some abstracts. Thorough and responsible evaluation of these bound journals was done before they were sent for pulping.
 
The move of the books to a store room in the library and the removal of the bound journals will provide space to implement recommendations by the task team assigned by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, to investigate repurposing the library into a world-class, state-of-the-art library where physical and virtual space is created to support multi-purpose learning spaces for students, collaborative and group learning, and providing space for more innovation in the library through technology, thus enhancing the overall student and user experience.

Released by:
Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27 51 401 2584 | +27 83 645 2454
Email: news@ufs.ac.za | loaderl@ufs.ac.za
Fax: +27 51 444 6393

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