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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

UFS and DRC Free State sign cooperation agreement
2013-11-27

The University of the Free State (UFS) recently signed a cooperation agreement for a period of five years with the DRC Free State. In this contract it is agreed that the university will offer theological training to DRC ministers.

With this agreement, the DRC Free State confirmed that the theological training currently offered by the Faculty of Theology meets the requirements and expectations of the church in such a way that her ministers can be trained within this context and ethos of the UFS. The Faculty of Theology believes that church involvement in the training of students of the DRC FS (as with all other churches), as well as the spiritual formation and guidance of those students, are important during their training and should be retained.

According to Prof Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academic, the Faculty of Theology at the UFS is the only institution in Central South Africa that offers complete and comprehensive theological training.

“As the youngest of the faculties at the UFS, this faculty has developed a lot in a relatively short time and is firmly established on many levels. The faculty currently offers training in all theological disciplines, from undergraduate to PhD level,” says Prof Hay.

The Faculty of Theology offers a unique national and international contribution to the development of the church, society and academic theological environment. This is made possible through quality theological training and specialist research based on a framework of classical theological training and research.

The new cooperation agreement that was signed acknowledges the uniqueness and independance of both the DRC in the Free State and the Faculty of Theology as public institutions, and strives to serve the interests of both institutions best.

According to Prof Fanie Snyman, acting Dean of the Faculty of Theology, this new agreement proves that the UFS is not only training students academically, but is also concerned with the human aspect of its students.

“It is a privilege for the university to be associated and work together with the DRC in this way,” says Prof Hay. Rev Jan Lubbe, Moderator of the DRC Free State, also indicated that he is very positive and excited about the new agreement.

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