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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

Kovsies shine at USSA Cross Country Championships
2009-10-15

Thandi Malindi (far left) from the UFS and two Matie athletes, Elene Lourens and Mia Pienaar.
Photo: Supplied

Kovsie cross-country athletes Boy Soke and Thandi Malindi were included in the USSA squad for 2010 at the World Student Cross-Country Championships in Canada. The final team will be announced after the SA Cross-Country Championships. They recently participated in the USSA Cross-Country Championships that were held at the University of Johannesburg. According to Mr DB Prinsloo from KovsieSport at the University of the Free State, the UFS team did extremely well at the recent USSA Cross-Country Championships.

Kovsies won the women long-race team competition (8 km), while the men came second in the men’s long-race team (10 km) competition. In the short-race team competitions (4 km for men and women) the UFS men finished fourth and women ended in fifth place respectively.

Thandi Malindi, the UFS Women Cross-Country captain, was the first Kovsie over the line (third place), followed by Nelmarie Loubser (4th) and Maryna Swanepoel (6th), who also won the team competition in the 8 km (long race) with 13 penalty points against the 14 penalty points of the Maties who finished second.

Mr DB Prinsloo from KovsieSport at the UFS praised the Kovsie athletes for the manner in which they ran the race. “Thandi gave her all; so much so that she had to be admitted to hospital due to dehydration. Nelmaré ran the hills with a smile on her face and Maryna, who suffered from low blood sugar, persevered until the end so that a Matie athlete could not pass her. You all showed to us what ‘vasbyt’ really means,” Mr Prinsloo said.

Kovsies performed above expectation in the short race (4 km) for women. “Our women finished fifth in the team competition. If one takes into consideration that the Kovsies were represented by 400/800 athletes, i.e. Elri Richter (400/800), who came seventh, Anneri Ebersohn (400/400 hurdles), who ended in sixteenth place and Yvonne Eyssen (heptathlon) who ended in twentieth place, it makes this performance even better,” Mr Prinsloo commented.

In the men’s short race (4 km) where the Kovsies were represented by young first-year 800 m athletes, the UFS did excellently by finishing in fourth place. Hanne Naudé (18th), Lebohang Mpure (19th), Abri Horak (26th) and Gerrit Viljoen (34st) ran their hearts out!

The long race (10 km) for men, which was run on an extremely difficult course, was another highlight – also for the Kovsies. The Kovsies finished second in the team competition. Boy Soke (4th), Windy Jonas (8th), Schadrach Mochelenyane (10th) en Michael Tlhoro (21st) represented the Kovsies with honours. Unfortunately Johan Cronjé and Dumisane Hlaselo had to withdraw from the race due to injuries.

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