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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 invests in community journalists
2013-12-09

The first group of journalists who completed the Department of Communication Science’s short-learning programme for community journalists. The course was developed by Mrs Willemien Marais (far left) and Mrs Margaret Linström (far right). In front in the middle are Prof Lucius Botes, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, and Mr Lumko Mtimde, CEO of the Media Development and Diversity Agency, the sponsor of the programme. Fifth from right is Ms Manana Monareng Wa Stone, Programme Manager of the MDDA.

An investment in our people, our region and our democracy. This is the value of the Department of Communication Science’s short-learning programme for community journalists.

The first 20 community journalists from radio stations and newspapers in the Free State and Northern Cape received their certificates recently after successfully completing the course Basic Journalism Skills for Community Media.

This credit-bearing short-learning programme is fully sponsored by the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), a statutory body with the aim of developing and promoting community media.

The University of the Free State (UFS) is the first university in South Africa that presents a course of this nature. “It is also the first large-scale formal training of community journalists in the Free State and Northern Cape,” says Mrs Margaret Linström, journalism lecturer in the Department of Communication Science. She developed the course together with another journalism lecturer in the Department, Mrs Willemien Marais. “What distinguishes our programme for similar programmes is the element of mentoring,” explains Marais. Students attend a week-long training session on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS. The lecturers then visit all the participating newsrooms to provide further training in terms of the unique challenges of their area. “During the second semester we’ve travelled more than 3000 km to visit radio stations and newspapers as far afield as Springbok and Phuthaditjhaba,” says Linström.

During the certificate ceremony the CEO of the MDDA, Mr Lumko Mtimde, said this partnership with the UFS has the potential to make a tangible difference in communities. “Combined community media reaches the largest target audience in the country. Against this background the importance of training community journalists becomes very clear,” says Mtimde.

The role of community journalists differ from that of journalists who work for state or commercial media. Yet most of these community journalists fall outside the network of formal training, mostly due to a lack of resources and access to training.

“This course has changed my life. I came back as a newborn baby for whom everything is new!” said Mr Setona Selisa from Naledi FM in Senekal. Selisa and his colleague, Mr Teboho Mabuya, received the award for the best participants of the 2013 course.

 

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