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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

Brazil: Wayde’s dream destination since childhood
2015-12-15


Wayde van Niekerk knows he has to work even harder in 2016 if he wants to achieve success at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Charl Devenish

When he was still in primary school, Wayde’s dream destination was Brazil. Even his dog’s name is Rio.

So it almost seems written in the stars for Wayde van Niekerk to take part in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio.

According to the 400m athlete of the University of the Free State (UFS), the Olympics has been something he has been dreaming about for years.

Van Niekerk, who studies BA Marketing at the UFS, has had a phenomenal 2015 season, and the whole of South Africa hopes he can repeat his outstanding form in Rio. The Olympics will be held from 5-21 August 2016.

Funny story

“It actually is a funny story. You know when you are in primary school, and the teacher says you have to write down your dream destination. Mine was Brazil,” Van Niekerk revealed.

“In 2012 at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics, I saw they introduced Rio as the next hosting country, and I thought Wow! That is where I want to be, and what I want to do.

“That opened my eyes and I knew God has a plan for me. I have to put in the hard work and achieve something with my life. Luckily from there on, there was pure growth in my life and I am grateful for that.”

His dream is also carried by his dog, Rio, a husky he got about two years ago.

Preparation in 2016

Van Niekerk will follow a specific programme leading up to Rio 2016.

In February next year, he will still be taking things easy, but will probably compete for the UFS in the Varsity Sports athletics.

“You have to build up slowly to peak at the right time,” he said.

In June 2016, he will start competing internationally in Jamaica, then New York, the All-Africa Games in Durban, and then,  some Diamond League events before the Olympics in August.

In the archive:

KovsieSport star

NBC tells waydes story

Wayde nominated as SAs best

Wayde Adidas face

Wayde’s hat trick of awards

Congratulate wayde and other achievers

Wayde wins gold

Kovsie trailblazing track runner

Kovsie gold medalist

Kovsie Campion sprinter

Wayde sets African record

Kovsies keep winning, this time in athletics

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