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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

Right to Learn campaign seeks to fund financially needy students
2015-11-11

SRC President, Lindokuhle Ntuli, pledges financial support to the Right to Learn campaign.
Photo: Tango Twasa

In response to the dire need for financial relief for academically deserving students from underprivileged backgrounds, the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University of the Free State (UFS) launched the Right to Learn campaign on Friday 30 October 2015. The campaign, which aims to counter deregistration, was initiated following the national #FeesMustFall campaign, which gained momentum after students from the University of Witwatersrand first mobilised against the proposed fee increases for 2016.

The SRC’s Projects Committee realised that, although President Jacob Zuma had consented to a 0% increment, the lack of an increase would not eliminate the financial burden currently facing some students.

“The campaign was conceived at the SRC’s strategic planning meeting, and is now spearheaded by the SRCs Projects Committee,” said Letsika Leqoalane, SRC: Academic Affairs. “The campaign was founded on the university's value of ‘Superior Scholarship’ and the SRC’s value of reducing student financial exclusions,” he added.

Students in pursuit of continued access to education


The Right to Learn campaign was established as a supplementary initiative to the #FeesMustFall movement. “The Right to Learn campaign is an initiative to raise funds for students who are facing financial exclusion in the coming year,” said the SRC Academics Affairs officer.

All proceeds will be channeled towards reducing the number of students who will face de-registration in 2016, the SRC textbook bursary, and food bursaries. “This campaign stands on three pillars, namely: no to de-registration, no to student food insecurity, and yes to textbooks,” explained Leqoalane.

A call for support

According to SRC President, Lindokuhle Ntuli, “SRC members have made pledges of no less than R500 each from their own pockets.” The SRC is appealing to the UFS community to make donations into the campaign bank account, and thereafter to email the proof of payment to Ntuli at NtuliL@ufs.ac.za. The account details are:

Account number: 15-7085-0721 ABSA Bank Branch
Reference: SRC FUND
Branch Code: 632005 Cheque Account
Swift code: ABSAZAJJ

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