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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

Kovsies produces another Mandela Rhodes Scholar
2012-10-25

Joanie van der Merwe
Photo: Supplied

25 October 2012

Another Kovsie student has been awarded the prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship. Joanie van der Merwe, a B.A. Honours Communication Science student, has been selected as one of 29 students from across the continent to receive the scholarship for 2013. The scholarship is awarded to young Africans who demonstrate academic and leadership potential.

This is the second successive year that the university has produced a Mandela Rhodes Scholar. Kovsie student Jaco Griessel was one of 23 students who received the bursary in 2011 for studies this year.

Joanie, who also holds a BA Honours Psychology degree, will study for her Master’s degree in Media Theory and Practice at the University of Cape Town next year. During the scholarship, she will be granted access to leadership development programmes. The scholarship covers study and registration costs, study material, accommodation and a living allowance.

Joanie says family urged her to apply for the scholarship. “After coming to terms with what the scholarship entails, I realised that I identify with the values and characteristics to which Mandela Rhodes scholars aspire.”

“I have a dream of forming an integral part of the continent in such a way that I will be able to serve others and empower the community where it is needed most. I want to live in such a way that my trials and mistakes are not wasted. They should be learnt from and be used to inspire and encourage others.”

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