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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

Two from the UFS selected to participate in USA transformation leadership programme
2009-11-29

Dr Choice Makhetha, Acting Dean of Student Affairs, and Prof. Aldo Stroebel, Director of International Affairs at the University of the Free State (UFS), have been selected by the US Embassy to participate in a Transformation and Diversity in Higher Education Leadership Programme in the USA during January and February 2010. Following a selection process in South Africa, Dr Makhetha and Prof. Stroebel are two of only five candidates selected, and the UFS is the only university in South Africa with two candidates.

Participants will meet with American scholars and experts on diversity in higher education, and visit various equity and diversity programmes at academic institutions. Discussions will focus on the real organisational implications of diversity, leadership, and changing the climate of an institution.

The programme will include investigations of campus diversity initiatives, public spaces and social forums where difficult dialogues about tolerance and social and cultural consciousness are facilitated in order to achieve acceptance and transform deep-rooted racial and ethnic conflicts. These dialogues will introduce future leaders to the practice of systematic dialogue as part of an effort to build constructive relationships.

Both Dr Makhetha and Prof. Stroebel have been involved in the conceptualisation and establishment of the Reitz Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice launched during November 2009, by inter alia facilitating the inclusion of four senior Fulbright specialists that will visit the UFS in 2010 to advise on transformation issues.

Photo: Supplied

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