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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

National U21 Hockey Player of the Year is a Kovsie
2015-09-16

 
The best U21 hockey player in the country
for 2015, Nicole Walraven

Nicole Walraven, a student at the University of the Free State (UFS), had a pleasant surprise waiting for her on 29 August 2015. She had participated at the Women's Interprovincial Tournament in Potchefstroom, and watching the finals from the stands with her family when the announcement was made.

“They announced that they were going to award South Africa’s (SA) Under-21 player of the year. It did not even go through my head that I could stand a chance of winning it. Then next minute, I hear my name being called. ”

“To win such an amazing award means so much to me. To be acknowledged as SA Under-21 player of the year of the entire country is still something that hasn't sunk in yet; I still can't believe it,” remarked Nicole.

Prior to this tournament, the 20-year-old was selected by the South African Hockey Association to represent South Africa, at senior level, at the World League in Spain and has again made the senior squad for selection to play in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in October.

Nicole, a descendant of hockey players, is ambitious about winning the Africa Cup, which would open doors to the Rio Olympics.  “It is my biggest dream to go to the Olympics. If I had the chance to go, I would be the 4th generation Olympian in my family,” she said.

In addition to her family, the final-year BA Human Movement Sciences student, credits her lecturers for her ability to juggle academics and a thriving sports career successfully.

“I owe it to my lecturers and the University for making it possible for me to pursue my dream as well as my studies,” she said, “It hasn't been easy, and I've had to make a lot of sacrifices but it's most definitely worth it.”

Also representing Kovsies on the SA Women’s Hockey team are Liné Malan and Tanya Britz.

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