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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

Trade unionist brings today’s policy issues to the table
2017-01-02

Description: Sidney Kgara Tags: Sidney Kgara 

Sidney Kgara currently heads the public-sector union of
Nehawu’s Policy Unit
Photo: Supplied

Sidney Kgara was appointed to the University of the Free State (UFS) Council in January 2015. He was appointed to the Council by Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, in one of three such positions.

Sidney heads the public sector union Nehawu's Policy Unit. The National Health Education and Allied Workers Union is the biggest public-sector union and the biggest union in the public service coordinating bargaining council. It therefore stands to reason that researching and drafting policy on issues such as labour market matters, public health and developments in higher education form the core responsibilities of the unit.

No stranger to university governance and leadership

Nehawu has a number of members working at the UFS and before his appointment, Kgara's only contact with the university was through its UFS members. However, he is no stranger to university governance and leadership. He was a student leader at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the 1990s and as a result has a broad understanding of student governance and university issues.

"Even though it was a different time and the circumstances were different, there is some sense of continuity to the issues we had to deal with then, and the issues that the university faces now," he says.

Kgara’s unique and valuable contributions to the Council

This, together with his experience in policy and research, enables Kgara to make a unique and valuable contribution to the Council.

Kgara is an avid reader and stimulating his mind through reading makes him truly happy. He also loves watching sport and enjoys socialising with friends.

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