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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

Student makes SA academic history
2007-11-04

Pulane Mahloka, a final-year B.Sc. (Quantity Surveying) student at the University of the Free State (UFS), has made academic history by becoming the first black student to be awarded a gold medal by the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS).

She is the fourteenth UFS student since 1970 to receive this accolade, and is only the sixth female student of the UFS to attain this honour.

According to the modest 23-year-old Ms Mahloka, her academic success attests to the quality of training the University of the Free State is providing.

“I did not in my wildest dreams ever imagine that I could be selected as the winner. I feel truly humbled and grateful to be counted amongst the achievers in my field of study,” said Ms Mahloka.

By smashing through the proverbial glass ceiling, Ms Mahloka hopes that she can inspire black students all over the country, particularly those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, so that they can realise that all is not gloomy.

Her advice to fellow students is: “There is little you can do about where you come from. Do not be ashamed, but work hard to develop yourself. Do not confine yourself by the fact that you were never exposed to certain equipment and books. Now that you have made it to university, it is your chance to work hard and make something out of your life.”

Ms Mahloka, who hails from Maseru in Lesotho, has been a star academic performer since her first year in 2003, when she received an award for the best first-year student.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@mail.ufs.ac.za
2 November 2007
 

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