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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 ready for national "sêr" competition
2010-09-02

The Veritas men show their talent during our campus’s recent sêr competition.
Photo: Provided

A group of talented Kovsies, each with a smile, are busy packing their cases. After winning our annual “sêr” competition, the “sêr” groups of the Sonnedou and Veritas Residences are getting ready to represent the University of the Free State (UFS) at the National “Sêr” Competition, which is taking place at Stellenbosch University (US) this year.

After months of intensive rehearsals, tension and excitement, the two city hostels are getting ready to compete against other South African universities for the trophies for the best women’s and men’s “sêr” group.

This competition, which is taking place on 4 September, is a major event on the cultural calendar. Although our representatives are from city residences, they have worked as hard, if not harder, than the resident students.

Sonnedou also participated last year, when the competition took place at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The group then came second and they are ready to bring home the first prize this year. Their repertoire include, amongst others, “Nkosi Sikeleli i'Afrika” and “Kinders van die Wind” by Koos du Plessis.

According to Herman Naudé, head student of Veritas and second tenor in the “sêr” group, the group is very excited about their participation in the competition. With songs like “Lief vir alles hier” by André Schwarts and “Sweet child O’ mine” by the group Guns ‘n Roses, they plan to fulfil the expectations of their fans and the adjudicators. “I really think we have a good chance to win this year,” says Herman. –Lize du Plessis

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