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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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Springboks choose Kovsies' sports facilities
2010-09-02

The Springbok team boasts five former Kovsies. From the left, front, are: Flip van der Merwe, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, and Gurthro Steenkamp. At the back, from the left, are: Jannie du Plessis, C.J. van der Linde and Juan Smith.
Photo: Gerhard Louw

Over the years the University of the Free State (UFS) has already produced 67 Springbok and 22 Springbok Sevens players. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Springboks have chosen the UFS’s sports facilities in preparation for their match against Australia this coming Saturday. They will tackle Australia at the Free State Vodacom Park at 17:00. Five former Kovsies are included in this team. They are Flip van der Merwe, Gurthro Steenkamp, Jannie du Plessis, C.J. van der Linde and Juan Smith.

Kovsies have been providing quality rugby for many decades already. During the 2009 rugby season the UFS rugby club produced 12 players for national teams and 73 players for provincial teams (all age groups). This does not include all the former Kovsies. According to Mr Rockey le Roux from KovsieSport at the UFS, there is currently not one South African Super 14 team that does not include a Kovsie or former Kovsie.

The UFS is also equipped to produce top rugby players. Shimla Park is the main field of Shimla rugby, where all the Shimla games are played. Some of the Varsity Cup games are also played on this field. Boom Prinsloo, the Shimla player named as the 2010 player of the Varsity Cup tournament, is included in the current Springbok Sevens practice team. Shimla Park boasts 1 000-lux lights, which let this field comply with international standards.

There are four more rugby fields that are used for residence rugby. Currently 26 rugby teams of the university's residences and three provincial teams practise on the fields.

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