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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

Powering the future
2014-07-10

 

Kovsie students with the organisers at the African Student Energy Summit.

Photo: Rirhandzu Marivate

Powering the future. This was the theme of the first-ever African Student Energy Summit. The event was recently hosted by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town. The summit was even more unique, since it was part of a global series of Energy Summits held simultaneously in the US, Mexico and Scotland.

Sixteen Kovsies, together with students from across South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, DRC, Zambia and Cameroon united at this event. The main goal: to confront pressing energy challenges faced by our continent. During roundtable discussions, these students brainstormed issues such as the accessibility of energy, as well as driving efficiency and sustainability through the use of green energy.

Antoinette Nel, a Kovsie honours student in Spatial Planning, said, “Interacting with different speakers and students on green energy possibilities enhanced my understanding of how much can be done to change the current status quo on energy in Africa.”

During a student parliamentary session, the participants had to come up with recommendations on sustainable energy. These will be compiled in a document and sent to the African Union (AU).

“My biggest highlight was understanding the need for energy by most Africans, not for lighting or industrialised activities but rather for daily livelihood, for basic rights and services such as cooking, health and education,” said Justman Suh, also an honours student in Spatial Planning at Kovsies.

“We are creating spaces to challenge Afro-pessimism in Africa through these platforms,” Dr Elizabeth Rasekoala, Chairperson of Green Shift Africa, said during the summit. 



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