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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

Marikana and its subsequent economic and political consequences
2013-05-30

 

Dawie Roodt and Prof Adam Habib
30 May 2013

The Marikana incident is a bitter moment for South Africa's new political establishment; a tragedy on the same scale as Sharpeville and the Soweto massacre.

This is how Prof Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal designate of the University of the Witwatersrand, described the sorrow during the CR Swart Memorial Lecture hosted by the Department of Political Studies and Governance.

Speaking on the topic The Post-Marikana landscape in South Africa, Prof Habib and Dawie Roodt, Chief Economist and Director of the Efficient Group, gave their views on the political and economic challenges confronting the country.

Prof Habib, a well-known political commentator, explained to the fully-packed CR Swart Auditorium how this tragedy provoked a national soul-searching.

Referencing from his highly-anticipated book South Africa's Suspended Revolution, Hopes and Prospects, Prof Habib said the difficulty Marikana poses is the challenge of inequality. According to him, inequality is the single biggest challenge of the South African society. He firmly believes that taking responsibility for poverty is a moral necessity. "Addressing poverty is absolutely crucial if we want to be a humane society."

In his presentation, Roodt informed the audience regarding recent data on population growth, unemployment and dependency ratios. These statistics gave an indication of how the country is doing. The economist said the only way to address unemployment, inequality and poverty is through economic growth.

"If we want to do something about inequality, we have to do something about skills – particularly skills for women. We must make it easier for people to get jobs," Roodt emphasised.

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