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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

UFS architects receive SAIA award
2003-11-07

Two staff members of the University of the Free State’s Department of Architecture received a merit award from the South African Institute for Architects (SAIA) for the unique way in which they designed their home.

Prof Jan and Mrs Petria Smit’s home in Waverley, Bloemfontein is built against a hill and designed in such a way that the natural surroundings are retained. The house is built on various levels and open spaces and a lot of light is used. The children’s rooms are for example not built up to the ceiling in order to break walls out if more space is needed.

For the two architects the natural surroundings in the cityscape depict an African mask because the strong face-like public image is sheltering the inhabitants behind it.

A total of 12 architectural projects country wide received merit awards from the SAIA. Some of the projects include the South African Apartheids Museum, Unilever’s Head Office in Durban, the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature in Nelspruit and the Westcliff Estate in Johannesburg. The Smit residence is one of only two residences that received merit awards.

From these projects the PG Group SAIA Award for Excellence will be awarded in August 2004. This is the highest accolade that the SAIA and the architectural profession can accord to a building.

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