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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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Department of Political Studies and Governance involved in regional seminar on peace and security in Southern Africa
2012-09-26

Attending the Lusaka seminar was from the left: Prof. Hussein Solomon; Prof. Virgil Hawkins from Osaka University and main organiser of the seminar; and Prof. Theo Neethling.
26 September 2012

Two staff members from the Department of Political Studies and Governance, Prof. Hussein Solomon and Prof. Theo Neethling, were recently invited by the Osaka University in Japan to participate in a regional seminar in Lusaka, Zambia, on multinational peacekeeping and peace enforcement in Southern Africa.

The seminar was organised by the Southern African Centre for Collaboration on Peace and Security funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Prof. Solomon presented a paper on the establishment of the Southern African contingent of the African Union’s African Standby Force, while Prof. Neethling presented his paper on United Nations peacekeeping operations in the war-ravaged eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The participation of Prof. Solomon, Senior Professor, and Prof. Neethling, Head of the Department of Political Studies and Governance, comes from a cooperation agreement between Osaka University’s School for International Public Policy (OSIPP) and the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Free State. The agreement covers issues like joint collaboration projects, the exchange of staff and senior students and joint conferences. One of the key joint areas lay in the Southern African Centre for Peace and Security Studies, a consortium of several Southern African universities with Osaka University and the University of the Free State as its key pillars.

Other universities include the University of Zambia, Zambian Open University, University of Dar es Salaam, Mozambique-Tanzania Centre for Foreign Relations. Academics from other universities in the region, like Nzuzu University in Malawi, University of Botswana, University of South Africa, Stellenbosch University, University of Zimbabwe, are all in the network.

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