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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

UFS researcher fills void in South African policing history
2017-01-02

Description: Dr Cornelis Muller Tags: Dr Cornelis Muller 

Currently a Postdoctoral fellow in the International
Studies Group, Dr Cornelis Muller’s PhD thesis explores
late nineteenth century South African policing on the
Witwatersrand.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“I used policing on the Witwatersrand as a lens through which to examine aspects relating to state formation within the South African Republic.”

This is how Dr Cornelis Muller, a postdoctoral fellow in the International Studies Group at the University of the Free State (UFS), described his PhD thesis called Policing the Witwatersrand: A history of the South African Republic Police, 1886-1899. The thesis fills an empirical void in the history of settler colonial policing in South Africa.

His research was also featured in the South African Historical Journal, which is published by Routledge. Dr Muller received his PhD from the UFS during the 2016 Winter Graduation ceremonies. He received a scholarship from the university to conduct his three-year research.

Relationship between police and state examined

The study presents itself as an institutional biography in which the relationship between the South African Republic Police (known as the Zarps), the state, and broader society are examined. The period under investigation was a time when political, economic, and social complexities on the Witwatersrand created tension between South Africa and Great Britain.

An important theme throughout the thesis is the relationship between the police, the mining industry, and the so-called Uitlander community. Crime was also an important contributing factor to the complex relationship that developed between the Zarps and the policed in Johannesburg’s formative years.

“Johannesburg was a town under siege by a variety of crimes which ranged from vagrancy, drunkenness, gambling, and prostitution to robbery, murder, and assault,” said Dr Muller.

Archives in South Africa and Great Britain consulted
“My thesis follows a chronological approach in which various themes accounting for the development of the police on the Witwatersrand are highlighted.” Framed within the bureaucratic and administrative functioning of the Zarps, he examined aspects relating to crime, crisis, and conflict between the police and society. The thesis also details the relationship between the police and Johannesburg’s black community.

As with any historical research, it comprised internal and external source criticism and content analyses of a wide range of archival records.

Dr Muller had the opportunity to visit several archives and libraries in South Africa and Great Britain. “Some of the more important archival collections were assessed at the National Archives in Pretoria.” These included the Archive of the State Attorney and the Archive of the Magisterial District of Johannesburg.

“My study thus adds to scholarship that seeks to provide a more nuanced understanding of the South African Republic’s administrative functioning and internal politics in the late nineteenth century,” concluded Dr Muller.

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