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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

Alumni inspired to keep flying the Kovsie flag high at reunion weekend festivities
2015-09-01

Dr Khotso Mokhele and Adv Roelf Meyer

The University of the Free State hosted alumni from all over the country on the Bloemfontein Campus during a weekend of exciting events, talks, and tours around the campus on 28 and 29 August 2015.

The celebratory events were kick-started with a leadership symposium hosted by Dr Marcus Ingram, Director: Institutional Advancement with Adv Roelf Meyer. The symposium was attended by current student leaders and the SRC Presidents Alumni Association. In his dialogue with the audience, Adv Meyer shared his experiences and personal growth in the process of bringing about democracy in the country with student leaders as change agents. “If you really want to contribute to change, it is not only an intellectual exercise; it is also a heart and soul thing,” he said.

The anchor event was the inaugural Chancellor’s Distinguished Alumnus Award Luncheon hosted by Chancellor, Dr Khotso Mokhele. Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, welcomed guests by highlighting the latest extraordinary achievements of UFS students and academic staff.

Keynote speaker of the day, Ms Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Executive Director of Inyathelo and a renowned politician, spoke of the role that universities have in preparing women for leadership roles and how they, in turn, can prepare society for female leadership.  She commended the UFS’s advancement efforts supported by the Kresge Foundation, which supports young people, to keep them in universities. “I am proud to say that the UFS’s efforts in advancement have achieved its goals.”

In his remarks, Dr Mokhele said “what draws a student back to his/her Alma Mater is the quality of the experience they had on campus.  This campus contributed to the transformation of this country through alumni such as Roelf Meyer and Kobie Coetsee.”  He said this initiative should create a lived experience for students on the university campus.  The Chancellor presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Adv Roelf Meyer, for his outstanding contributions to the human interests of South Africa, and his current work of facilitating peace processes around the world.

In accepting the award, Adv Meyer introduced Youth Zones, a project which he has been involved with for the past five years, empowering and supporting 40,000 youths in the Free State. In accepting the award, he said “I was a first-year student in 1960, my year group represented the most emphatic group of this university. There are many who came before and after us who well deserve this award, therefore, I accept it on behalf of all alumni.”

To wrap up the weekend’s festivities, former SRC President, Richard Chemaly, hosted the Faculty of Law alumni cocktail event at the CR Swart Auditorium.
Speaking at the event, Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law, said “A faculty cannot exist without its alumni, we need you to carry us.  Your continued support and collaboration is truly appreciated.”

Alumni and staff enjoyed further entertainment by well-known musical groups, Freshly-Ground and The Muses.

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