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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

State-of-the-art audio-visual studio up and running at UFS
2015-11-25

The state-of-the-art audio-visual studio that was unveiled in the beginning of this year reaped its first crop during a historic moment. On Wednesday 28 October 2015, the eight pilot students in the Postgraduate Programme in Film and Visual Media, which was launched at the beginning of this year, had their first big screen experience. Eight films were premiered in one night at the University of the Free State (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus.

An intimate movie theatre was brimming with friends and family of the students, their lecturers, and judges who doubled as moderators. This was no ordinary motion picture viewing. The apprentice filmmakers’ productions were undergoing formal external examination.

Judge by a legend

Katinka Heyns
critiqued the student’s final products. Heyns is a renowned filmmaker, actress, director, producer, and founder of the production company, Sonneblom Films. She has numerous awards to her name, including the Career Contribution and Innovation Award, Legendary Award for Woman in Film and Television, and Medal of Honour for Paljas, which were presented by the Absa Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK), International Crystal Award, and South African Academy for Science and Arts, respectively.

Johanet Kriel and Chris Vorster from the film school also assisted as moderators.



The cinema exam

Each student had 20 minutes to provide a synopsis for the viewers, and screen the movie. At the end, The Secret of the Golden Flower, written and directed by Rudiker Janse van Rensburg, and The Nexus Effect, written and directed by Gawie Myburgh were judged the best movies “Both films had had clear and creative story lines, a solid structure, and quality editing,” said Chris Vorster.

Despite technical teething problems, all the students showed a great deal of talent and passion for filmmaking. “Given the time constraints and technical challenges, I’m very relieved that we actually got films on screen. They all impressed me with their creativity. Mission accomplished,” added Vorster.

The films

• The Blood of Barbara (Yvonne Allwright)
• Diary of an Oreo (Nonsindiso Qwabe)
• GeFop! (Hendrik Cronje)
• The Nexus Effect (Gawie Myburgh)
• The Secret of the Golden Flower (Rudiker Janse van Rensburg)
• Well ain’t that a Coinkydink?! (Rethabile Radebe)
• What Lurks in the Dark…(Rese Moore)

(Photo caption: Front row from left: Nonsindiso Qwabe, Suné van Heerden, Theresa Moore, Gawie Myburgh. Middle row: Rudiker Janse van Rensburg, Hendrik Cronjé, Yvonne Allwright, and Rethabile Radebe. Back: lecturer: Chris Vorster.)

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