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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. 


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Kovsies Star of Stars gives back to communities that need it most
2017-01-15

Description: ' 000 A StarOfStars Finalists Tags: StarOfStars Finalists

The 11 Kovsie Star of Stars finalists.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Description: ' 000 A StarOfStars Winner Tags: A StarOfStars Winner

"Doctor" Tshepo Thajane, the 2017 Kovsie Star of Stars.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Starting in 2016, the UFS Marketing department embarked on a project designed to help learners from less fortunate backgrounds to discover their potential. This competition, dubbed Kovsies Star of Stars, recognises excellence in some of the most disadvantaged schools in the Free State. C-Squared Group, a black-owned and -managed agency, is partnering with the UFS in this endeavour. Amongst many other prizes on offer, the winner is awarded a full bursary to study at the UFS.

For the first year, two of the five Free State districts were identified, namely Xhariep and Motheo. Grade 11 and Grade 12 learners were invited to participate in 2016, the winner being announced at a gala event on the Bloemfontein Campus early in 2017, with Success Lekabe as host for the evening.

Nomonde Mbadi, Director of UFS Marketing, says of the contestants, “All 11 Star of Stars finalists had one thing to say that gave the judges goose bumps, and that was: ‘We want to give back to our community.’ This is truly commendable.”

"Doctor" Tshepo Thajane, from Lefikeng Secondary School in Botshabelo, was selected as the winner of the inaugural Kovsies Star of Stars competition. He is pursuing a degree in Actuarial Sciences, and will be a Karee resident. He says, “I loved UFS before I even came here, because of the respect I was shown. And I really didn’t think I would win; it just came as a surprise to me.”

Lebohang Lesenyeho, from Kgauho Secondary School (Botshabelo), had a special word for the organisers. “I would be very honoured if you could include a message to them. We really thank them for this opportunity.”

It is hoped the competition will garner the support of financial sponsors and be expanded to include learners from Grade 9, 10, 11, and 12 across all five districts in the Free State province.

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