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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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“Stick to your dreams, reach your destiny,” Zahara tells class of 2012
2012-09-07

Foto: Thabo Kessah
5 September 2012

Grade 12 learners from more than 30 schools in the Eastern Free State recently attended the Qwaqwa Campus Open Day where they were addressed by singer Zahara. She entertained the learners with hits like Loliwe, Umthwalo and Destiny and she advised the Class of 2012 to stick to their dreams if they wanted to reach their destinies. The Vice-Rector: External Relations, Dr Choice Makhetha, also addressed the learners and told the packed Rolihlahla Mandela Hall never to allow their disadvantaged backgrounds to influence their futures. “I was also in your shoes years ago. I know how it feels to come from a poor family. But I am here today and proud to say I am part of the leadership of one of the best universities in the world,” said Dr Makhetha. Learners then visited various faculties and departments to see what they offered and also had the opportunity to apply for placement in the 2013 academic year.

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