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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 focuses on human rights and anti-racism
2017-03-20

Description: "Bongani Majola Tags: Bongani Majola
Prof Bongani Majola and Prof Leon Wessels at
the launch of the FSHRC.
Photo: Supplied

Human rights are part of the dominant moral and political language of our time, and demand a multi-layered scholarly engagement. These discussions influence national and international relations, and set standards for political and democratic practice.

New Centre for Human Rights launched

Since the academic space is a microcosm of society at large, it is crucial that the University of the Free State (UFS) takes part in such scholarly discussions, drawing lessons and crafting solutions from these dialogues.

To this end, the new Free State Centre for Human Rights (FSCHR) was officially launched on 14 March 2017 at the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS. Professor Bongani Majola, the newly elected chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), was the guest speaker at the event. The FSCHR began operating on 1 January 2016, under the leadership of Prof Leon Wessels, founding member of the SAHRC, as the acting director of the centre. 

A priority on the centre’s agenda will be to uphold the February 2011 post-Reitz agreement between the SAHRC and UFS, which was subsequently made an order of the Equality Court. This order compelled the UFS to establish such a centre. The centre presents new opportunities for cooperation between the UFS and SAHRC and other stakeholders to benefit the UFS and the broader community.

Anti-Racism Week marked by IRSJ

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ), in conjunction with the newly-launched FSCHR, the Anti-Racism Network of South Africa (ARNSA), and the Arts and Culture office of Student Affairs presented an event on Friday 17 March 2017 to mark Anti-Racism Week (14-21 March) and Human Rights Day (21 March).

This second annual Anti-Racism Week sees seven days observed for all institutions, organisations, and individuals to fight racism, with each day having an assigned theme, such as ‘Be Aware’ (14 March) and ‘BeCome’ (21 March).

“Battling racism
is a life-long
commitment”
—JC van der Merwe,
Acting Director, IRSJ

JC van der Merwe, Acting Director of the IRSJ, said, “Battling racism is a life-long commitment. It is time for us to tackle the problem head-on. Anti-Racism Week gives us the platform to communicate within the university, within our communities, but also at grassroots level. The idea this year is that we all BeCome champions against racism, not just during this week, but that it will become part of everyday life on our campuses.”



Talented UFS students perform a flash mob dance prior to a collaborative event to mark Anti-Racism Week and Human Rights Day.
Video: UFS Instagram

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