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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

Culture contributes to success of UFS rugby teams
2015-12-15

The Sevens team of the University of the Free State followed in the footsteps of the Shimlas when the team was crowned national champion. The Kovsies Sevens team beat Tukkies April in the final of the Varsity Sevens tournament. Photo: Supplied. 

The University of the Free State (UFS) Rugby Club has succeeded once again in creating a culture of values.

Marius van Rensburg, Chairman of the UFS Rugby Club, believes this was one of the reasons why Kovsies had so many rugby successes this year.

The UFS knows that money, which is more abundant at bigger universities, won't change the club into a rugby force, but "there is something special here," he said.

Van Rensburg added that the success of Shimlas, who won the Varsity Cup for the first time, also helped to build a winning culture.

Seven finals

Seven of the UFS Rugby Club's teams played in finals during 2015.

Shimlas beat the Pukke in the Varsity Cup final at Shimla Park on the Bloemfontein Campus.

The Kovsie Young Guns (against Tukkies) and Vishuis (Mopanie from Tukkies) got stuck in Bloemfontein in Varsity Cup finals.

The Shimlas won Section B of the USSA tournament in Johannesburg (against Madibaz in the final).

A strong Irawa rugby team beat Shimlas in the City Cup.

The Kovsie Sevens team was crowned as the Varsity Champions in Cape Town after beating Tukkies in the final. The team was beaten by Maties in the final of the USSA Sevens tournament in George.

Shimlas lays foundation

According to Van Rensburg, the Varsity Cup triumph by Shimlas laid a good foundation.

“After what happened in the Varsity Cup, the winning culture kind of washed over the other teams,” he said.

He also thinks the 2015 successes didn't happen overnight, but that the club managed to bring back good values. He feels that Franco Smith, the former Shimlas coach who is the Cheetahs’ current coach, also played an important part.

Greater pressure in 2016

In 2016, the UFS's rugby teams will have a greater target on their backs.

Van Rensburg agrees that there will be greater pressure, but the structures are in place.

He feels that Varsity Cup success goes together with a touch of luck, of which Shimlas had some this year.

“Looking at the draw, Shimlas will play their first two matches away against Ikeys and Tukkies. Therefore, after two matches, one might have no league points, and that would place the team under immediate pressure.”

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