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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

‘This university gives me hope’
2013-10-02

 
4 October 2013
Photo: Stephen Collett

“This is a university that gives me hope. It has a willingness and a capacity to care,” Brand Pretorius said at a farewell function at the UFS.

He served the university as honorary professor in the Department of Business Management since 1991 and delivered the Brand Pretorius lecture for the past two decades. His recent lecture dealt with the topic “Guidelines for sustainable personal success in business – lessons I learnt”.

He retired as CEO of McCarthy and as an executive director of the Bidvest Group on 1 March 2011. Currently he serves as a non-executive director on the boards of the Barclays Africa Group, Reunert, RGT Smart, Tata Africa Holdings and Tongaat Hulett. He is the non-executive chairman of Italtile Limited.

Pretorius said at the farewell function the UFS is still a source of inspiration and pride. The leadership has a lot of courage and commitment and embraced change. “They embraced the fact that we are living in a different world.

“The vision of the UFS is inspirational. It wants to be recognised for academic and research excellence. The university became a pioneer in reconciliation in a very difficult world. Change comes with pain, and the UFS dealt with it in a worthy manner.

“I am proud of this institution because it still strives for high standards, the right principles and values and it has respect for all people.”

Pretorius said the university’s heart is in the right place. “It is a beacon of hope of what the rainbow nation will be in South Africa one day. Reconciliation is a sign that this is happening.”

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