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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

Shimlas still the only unbeaten side in 2015 Varsity
2015-03-18

The Shimlas remain the only unbeaten side in this year’s Varsity Cup rugby tournament after their bonus-point 44-24 win against the University of Cape Town Ikeys in Bloemfontein.

The home side managed a very comfortable 34-8 lead in the first half against the defending champions Ikeys. No matter how hard the Ikeys fought back, the Shimlas win was inevitable, and secured the first ever home semifinal at the UFS.

It was in the second minute that Shimlas’ Gerhard Olivier went over the try line. The Shimlas continued to press forward, and kept the game play primarily in the UCT half of the field. By the time the first Strategy Break came along, the Shimlas already had a 21-0 lead over their visitors. The Ikeys did manage one converted try before halftime, still leaving the home side with  a 34-8 lead.

After halftime, there was still no stopping the Shimlas. Even when UCT’s attempt at a comeback saw them scoring their second converted try, the point difference were still 18 points. Shortly after, Olivier scored his third try for the Shimlas. The Ikeys’ response to this was scoring a third try in their comeback effort, putting the scoreboard at 39-24 with Shimlas still in the lead after 65 minutes.

Despite Ikeys’ attempt for their bonus point try near fulltime, Shimlas’ counter-attack saw their replacement player Boela Venter cross the try line for the last  time to secure a 44-24 win for the home side.

The Shimlas will host North-West University’s Pukke side at Shimla Park in the last round of the tournament this coming Monday. For the first time since the Varsity Cup’s inauguration in 2008, the UFS side has already secured a home semifinal for the week after.

Shimlas point scorers:

Tries: Gerhard Olivier (3), Johan van der Hoogt, Danie Maartens (2), Boela Venter
Conversion kicks: Niel Marais (3)

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