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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

NBC tells Wayde’s story
2015-11-02

   

The film crew from NBC Olympics
filming Wayde van Niekerk (centre, in grey clothes)
during a practice session at Pellies Park on the
Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS.
On the left is Ans Botha, Van Niekerk’s coach.
Photo: Charl Devenish

The Kovsie star Wayde van Niekerk stands an excellent chance of shining at the 2016 Olympics and has a remarkable story behind his success.

This is why NBC Olympics, a division of the American broadcasting network NBC, selected the athlete from the University of the Free State (UFS) to do a special insert for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

A film crew from NBC visited the City of Roses and the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 October 2015 to film the insert. The feature will be screened on NBC Olympics’ platforms during and leading up to the Olympics next year.

One of four stars


Van Niekerk was one of four athletes used by the crew to film inserts on. The others were the South African swimmer Chad le Clos, the Kenyan 800 m athlete David Rudisha, and Ethiopian middle- and long-distance athlete Genzebe Dibaba.

The crew interviewed Van Niekerk and his coach Ans Botha, and also paid a visit to Pellies Park during one of his training sessions.

According to Tom Davidson, feature producer at NBC Olympics, the piece about Van Niekerk will be about three minutes long.

“We do a pretty good job of picking good stories, but it is up to the athletes to get there,” Davidson said.

“We think Wayde has a good shot at being in the finals of the 400 m at the Olympics.”

Van Niekerk won a gold medal in a time of 43.48 s at the World Championships in Beijing during August 2015 and set a new South African record for a third time and a new African record for a second time this year in the process.

Beijing success propels Wayde onto NBC radar


“Wayde’s performance in Beijing certainly propelled him onto our radar,” said Davidson.

 “He beat former World and Olympic champions like Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt.”

He feels that Van Niekerk is also very young and still at university.

And Botha makes his story even more interesting.

“It is not every day that you see a 74-year old great-grandmother coaching a world champion.”



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