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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

DF Malan – the politician, the man and Lindie Koorts’ award behind it
2014-04-30

 
Lindie Koorts
Photo: Hannes Pieterse
Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. In this case, it is not only true, but fact is stirring up more of a buzz than make-belief does.

The first biography of an apartheid Prime Minister written since 1994, won an award at the 2014 Woordfees. ‘DF Malan and the Rise of Afrikaner Nationalism’ is the title of the book causing this national whirlwind. The author: Lindie Koorts – a postdoctoral fellow at the UFS’s Centre for Africa Studies.

She admits she was among the most surprised when she won the category for Debut Writers. “This is, as far as I know, the first time this prize goes to a non-fiction writer,” Koorts said.

What started as curiosity around DF Malan, four years later culminated in an objective biography devoid of justification or exoneration. “Throughout the process of writing, I offer the facts, but I do not clamber in with moralistic judgements,” Koorts said.

In addition to Malan the politician, Koorts discovered Malan the human being as well during her research. When she stumbled on his hand-written love letters to Maria Louw, which he wrote when he was in his 60s, a totally different man emerged. “I felt like a teenager while reading those letters!” Koorts laughed.

In the chapter entitled Coalition and Fusion, this dynamic historian unearthed a fact that had the power to change the course of history. Up until this point, the belief was held that one party deceived another. However, Koorts’ research proves that the entire issue rested on a letter that did not arrive on time. A case of tardy train schedules and a mere misunderstanding.

“To be able to unravel these things makes one feel that you have succeeded in something,” she said.

Not only did she succeed in writing an award-winning biography, she surely will be making history as she goes.

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