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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. 


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State of our campuses: UFS campuses closed until Friday 23 September 2016
2016-09-20

After careful assessment of the situation on the Bloemfontein, Qwaqwa, and South Campuses of the University of the Free State (UFS), and engagement with the Student Representative Council (SRC), the senior leadership decided this morning to close all its campuses until Friday 23 September 2016.

All academic and administrative services on the three campuses have therefore been suspended and will resume again on Monday 26 September 2016. This means that no academic and administrative services will be available and no lectures and/or tests will take place on the three campuses for the rest of the week.

This decision was made after all academic activities were suspended on the Bloemfontein Campus yesterday afternoon because of a growing unease and disruption of some academic activities by groups of students, resulting from yesterday morning’s announcement on tuition fees by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande. Although the university management is in favour of peaceful protests, it condemns these disruptions, especially as it took place during an important time in the academic calendar.

The decision to suspend academic and administrative services for the rest of this week was taken with caution, as it will ensure the safety of staff, students, and university property. It will also assist the university management in maintaining stability on the campuses.

Adjustments will be made to the teaching calendar, and students are requested to obtain this information from their respective faculties. No student will be disadvantaged in terms of tests or assignments as a result of the unfortunate closure of the university for the rest of the week.

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