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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

Prof Dennis Francis delivers keynote address at colloquium on homophobia and transphobia
2013-11-29

Prof Dennis Francis
Prof Dennis Francis, Dean of the Faculty of Education, delivered the keynote address at a colloquium focusing on homophobia and transphobia in schools.

The UNESCO and Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) is hosting Transforming Classrooms, Transforming Lives: Combating Homophobia and Transphobia in Education, at the University of Johannesburg.

Looking specifically at the Southern African context, this multi-disciplinary event builds on the highly successful 2012 Colloquium on Challenging Homophobia and Transphobia in South African Schools.

The colloquium allows educators, policy makers, researchers and activists from across Southern Africa to discuss the scope and impact of homophobia and transphobia in the education sector. It also creates a space for delegates to present new research, to discuss recent front-line activities, to reflect on good practices and to workshop future interventions.

Prof Francis’ paper on challenging heterosexism and heteronormativity in a South African school, was recently published in the South African Journal of Education.

For his research, Prof Francis looked at how learners understand and portray gay and lesbian characters and heterosexism by means of Participatory Theatre. He also did research on how teachers in South African schools position themselves on teaching about sexual diversity.

Prof Francis’ research papers also points out how schools promote compulsory heterosexuality and that homosexuality is something to be hidden and kept separate from teaching, learning and daily school life.

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