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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

Missing UFS student found in Phuthaditjhaba
2014-10-16

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus management and students are shocked and saddened by the untimely passing away of Sinethemba Shezi (22), who was reported missing this past weekend.

His lifeless body was found this morning in the river around the area in Phuthaditjhaba where he was accosted the evening of Friday 10 October 2014 while walking to the campus with a friend.

The cause of his death is still unknown and the incident is being investigated by the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Campus Principal, Prof Prakash Naidoo, expressed his deepest sympathy to the family and friends on behalf of the university community.

“This morning we received the sad news that our student, who had gone missing, was finally found. We wish to thank all students and staff, the entire community of Phuthaditjhaba and the SAPS for their efforts. This has not been an easy week for all of us,” said Prof Naidoo.

Mr Shezi was a third-year BEd student.

A memorial service is planned on the Qwaqwa Campus for next week and funeral arrangements are expected to be announced at this event.

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