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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

First university student from Elzabé Zietsman’s Doilie Foundation chooses Kovsies
2015-01-21

Naledi Dweba and Elzabé Zietsman
Photo: Johan Roux

Naledi Dweba, one of the young people mentored by the well-known singer, Elzabé Zietsman, will become a Kovsie this year.

Although the University of the Free State (UFS) wasn’t the only university to offer Dweba a scholarship, he decided on Kovsies without doubt or further consideration and enrolled for his BMus degree with us. His instrument is the clarinet and Dweba reckons the outstanding Danré Strydom – a lecturer at the UFS’s Odeion School of Music – is the reason why he decided on Kovsies.

“She is a remarkable music teacher,” says Dweba.

Dweba, who only started with music lessons at the age of 15, recently performed his Grade 8 exam. Last year he also obtained a music distinction in matric.

Dweba and Zietsman met four years ago and, as a result of her Doilie Foundation, he now has the opportunity to pursue his dreams as a music student. Zietsman started the foundation in 2012 in order to help talented children.

“I have so many talented young people under my care, but Naledi is the first one to attend university,” Zietsman said at the university’s 2015 first-year’s welcoming on the Bloemfontein Campus.

The Doilie Foundation currently provides for several artistic children – from musicians to ballerinas. 

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