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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

Clarification of charges against the Reitz students
2009-10-24

Statement by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS)

The University of the Free State (UFS) has not “withdrawn charges” against the four Reitz students. This needs to be clarified.

There are three processes underway, and they must not be confused:

  1. 1. The criminal charges against the students were laid by the Directorate of Special Prosecutions in the province, and the university has no say over those processes in the criminal courts. That process remains in place.

  2. The human rights charges are led by the Human Rights Commission, in the province, and the university has no say over those processes in the equality court. That process remains in place.

  3. The university simply withdrew its own complaint against the students, insofar as university processes are concerned, and on that basis decided to invite the students back to continue their studies and to re-open Reitz as a model of social justice and racial reconciliation as an exemplary university residence. These decisions alone fall within the realm of the university’s authority.

The decision with respect to the withdrawal of the university’s complaint against the students was based on two considerations:

a. the institution’s own accountability for what happened, and creating (or not interrupting) the conditions under which racism and racist attacks were even possible on the campus of an institution of higher learning. It is in this context that the institution has decided to offer reparations for harm to the dignity and esteem of the five workers.

b. the institution’s desire to create the conditions for racial reconciliation on a deeply divided campus, and in doing so to accelerate the chances of transformation at the UFS.

There were broad consultations with the Human Rights Commission, Cosatu provincial, Sasco, Nehawu as representatives of the workers; there were also discussions with the leadership of the Student Representative Council (SRC) about the need to resolve the Reitz issue outside of the courts; and the matter of Reitz and its resolution through negotiation was also raised with the Minister of Higher Education and Training. There were also meetings with the legal representatives of both the students and the provincial prosecuting authority.

There was a meeting with the workers to ensure them of the university’s full support for them as workers, but the case itself was only discussed with their representatives, Nehawu.

Sasco National has communicated a message of support to the university to return the two students and to re-open the Reitz residence.

 

Issued by: Lacea Loader
Deputy Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
19 October 2009

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