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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 law researcher part of international project to produce human trafficking reference book
2017-03-17

Description: Human trafficking reference book Tags: Human trafficking reference book


Trafficking in Persons has been in the spotlight as an ever-growing crime around the world. Research being done in South Africa by various universities over the years has yielded results that are internationally recognised.

Part of this work has been done by Prof Beatri Kruger, Research Associate at the Centre for Human Rights at the University of the Free State (UFS), who has been involved in research that has created awareness around the world on various methods of human trafficking in Africa. She is currently working on co-authoring a chapter in the International Handbook on Human Trafficking to be published by Palgrave, the first of its kind and a major reference work in this field, with Marcel van der Watt, a lecturer at the University of South Africa (Unisa) Department of Police Practice. The reference book is a massive international project that will have more than 60 international contributors and will be published in 2018.

Contribution to international research
The chapter is titled: Breaking bondages: Methods to control victims, ‘Juju’ and human trafficking. It explores the methods used by Nigerian and other West African traffickers, namely “juju” rituals, to subdue their victims for sexual exploitation in various parts of the world. The chapter further charts various physical, financial and the psychological control mechanisms, essential in establishing an informed counter-trafficking global response.

The book and other research being done is a step in the right direction in further understanding specific practices, and can be used to augment international research, support the work of NGOs, law enforcement agencies and individuals who work with victims worldwide, to be able to understand the tools used by perpetrators, and to stop the crime from growing.

Prof Kruger said there were new opportunities at the research division of the UFS Centre for Human Rights to explore human rights violations that occur in human-trafficking scenarios, thus contributing towards more efficient strategies to combat this crime.

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