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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

Former Kovsie wins Absa L’Atelier
2012-07-27

Elrie Joubert
Photo: Hannes Pieterse
24 July 2012

A former Kovsie has taken top honours at the Absa L’Atelier Art Competition.

Elrie Joubert, who completed her master’s degree at the Department of Fine Arts in 2010, is the first Free Stater who has won the competition for young artists between 21 and 35. This puts her in the company of previous winners such as Penny Siopis and Diane Victor. As the overall winner, Joubert receives a cash prize of R110 000 and a six month stay at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France.

Her winning entry, Selective Unveiling, consists of a light-table with a private collection of miniature natural objects, a digital microscope used by the viewer to inspect the objects, as well as a projector that projects the microscope’s image directly on a screen.

“By making my private collection public, I expose myself to possible investigation and criticism,” says Joubert about her winning entry. “The process is, however, reversed when the viewer is also robbed of his/her ‘privacy’ in collecting images with the microscope, which are projected on a screen for other viewers to see.”

Joubert, who lectures in Drawing and History of Art of Graphic Design at the Midrand Graduate Institute’s Bloemfontein Campus, says the Absa L’Atelier is the biggest competition she has won thus far. In 2007 and 2010 she reached the final rounds of the SASOL New Signatures Art Competition.

Her advice to art students: “Keep on doing what you do, learn to handle criticism selectively, and above all, if you take no risks you’ll never win.”


 

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