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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 Extraordinary Professor involved in public signing of historic charter
2010-10-27

Prof. Iain Benson

Prof. Iain Benson, an Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS), was one of the speakers at the signing of the historic South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms on Thursday, 21 October 2010.

Thursday’s signing of the charter was the culmination of two years’ work of the Continuation Committee responsible for drawing up the document, of which Prof. Benson is a part. All the major religions signed the charter at the ceremony Thursday where Prof. Benson was one of the four speakers, who included the Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa, Justice Moseneke.

The charter, which has already received considerable international and national attention, will now be submitted to the ANC government for negotiations. Indicative of the important role that Prof. Benson played in the process of drawing up the charter is that he has been offered a role as an advisor for the newly created committee responsible for the drafting of the Constitution of the Council of Religious Freedom.

Originally hailing from Canada and currently residing with his family in France, Prof. Benson is an academic with a wealth of experience and expertise in the field of law, especially with regard to right of conscience and religion. His achievements number many, including being a Senior Associate Counsel at one of Canada’s leading law firms, Miller Thompson LLP; and serving on the Founding Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism. Prof. Benson gave his inaugural lecture last week with a lecture entitled Living together with Disagreements and the Limits of the Law.

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