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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

Study on school violence shows the secondary school environment compels learners to be armed
2015-01-26

The secondary school environment apparently compels learners to come to school armed. This is according to a study done by Dr Lynette Jacobs, a lecturer at the School of Education Studies at the University of the Free State.

In her study, Dr Jacobs found that learners from more affluent schools carry noticeably more weapons than learners in less affluent schools. Learners in the lower grades of secondary schools also use and carry more weapons than learners in the higher grades.

Dr Jacobs says while many reasons for school violence can be noted, such as to forcibly take the victims money and food, racial differences, religious differences, as well as the immigrant status of one of the parties involved, these were reasons indicated by less than 10% of the participants in the study.

“There is no single explanation for the threat of violence at schools and most acts of school violence appear to happen randomly, often out of instant retaliation.”

For the study, Dr Jacobs did surveys at schools across three provinces in South Africa.

“Although it varies in levels of seriousness, incidences of physical violence and verbal cruelty consistently occur at South Africans schools. I found that learners are furthermore regularly mocked, insulted, cursed and humiliated by peers.”

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