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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 withdraws interdict against SASCO and ANCYL
2003-11-25

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Prof Frederick Fourie, announced today that a court order against the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) had been withdrawn.

The withdrawal of the court order follows after a written statement by SASCO and the ANCYL in which they “unconditionally withdraw or retract statements threatening to render the institution ungovernable” and give their “commitment not to proceed with our threats to establish our own democratic SRC and occupy the current SRC offices”.

The UFS management obtained the court order in October after SASCO and the ANCYL refused to accept the outcome of the recent student referendum and SRC elections and threatened to disrupt the campus.

Prof Fourie also welcomed the undertaking by SASCO and the ANCYL to act in accordance with the prescribed procedures to resolve any grievance that the organisations may have, saying the UFS management remains committed to a constructive dialogue with all student organisations to manage a campus of diversity, tolerance and non-racialism.

In September students voted in a referendum to test support for a system of proportional representation (PR) for the SRC. A vast majority of students voted against the PR system, a system favoured by SASCO and the ANCYL..

Following allegations of fraud in the referendum, the UFS management asked the auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent audit of the ballot papers.

The auditors found that a total of 180 ballot papers out of 3513 – only 5.12% - of the votes cast - appeared to have been altered by means of erasing and then changing the student number.

According to the auditors, with all potentially altered and suspicious ballot papers excluded, a huge majority of 60,8% of students voted against the proportional representation system.

A few days after the referendum, the actual SRC election was held. However, at no stage were there any complaints from any organization about the integrity of the SRC election itself.

Despite this and the findings of the auditors, SASCO and the ANCYL refused to accept the outcome.

Law student Quintin du Plessis was elected SRC president. He welcomed the stance taken by SASCO and the ANCYL to pursue their objectives through the existing structures and said the SRC was always willing to engage with these organisations on issues of student governance.

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