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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

Freedom of religion, a constitutional right and area of global concern
2017-01-17

 Description: Prof Shaun de Freitas Tags: Prof Shaun de Freitas

Prof Shaun de Freitas
Photo: Mamosa Makaya





Freedom of religion is enshrined in the South African Constitution, states that everyone has the right to freedom of religion, which more specifically entails the freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion. It makes provision for the protection of religious communities in South Africa. Consequently, the maintenance and protection of such a right is of fundamental importance.

Prof Shaun de Freitas, Associate Professor of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) specialises in constitutional law, with a specific focus on the right to freedom of religion, and has produced several publications in the field. The latest is titled “Transcending the Private-Public School Divide in the Context of the Right to Freedom of Religion in South Africa”, Chapter 19, in Religious Freedom and Religious Pluralism in Africa – Prospects and Limitations published by Stellenbosch University in 2016.

Prejudice a challenge in all societies
There are numerous challenges faced by religious groups around the world concerning prejudice, association with terrorism and political power and influence. Therefore, research in this field becomes important in helping to uphold the rights and freedoms of religious minority groups, to be able to foster understanding between communities.

Balancing responsibility and religious rights
His current focus is on challenges that have arisen in South Africa, more specifically pertaining to the right of medical practitioners to object conscientiously towards participating in certain medical procedures, the parameters of freedom related to religious associations and the inclusion of religious expression in public schools. These matters are also relevant to many other parts of the world (including, ironically enough, those democratic societies that endeavour to make diversity flourish).

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