Mr Lindokuhle Christopher Mhlongo used scientific methods to explore medicinal plants as an alternative to chemical products used in the treatment of intestinal worms in sheep and goats, earning a Master of Science in Agriculture degree cum laude.
His research which focused on the use of indigenous medicinal plants that have shown effectiveness in treating animal diseases – involved 16 ethanolic crude plant extracts in different formulations used as combination treatment for intestinal worms in sheep and goats.
Mhlongo explained that doses and plant combinations that show positive results can be standardised and used in treatment.
He hoped his study would contribute to an initiative to reduce dependence on commercial products as he believes these have many disadvantages such as the development of resistance, being unaffordable and sometimes inaccessible to people living in rural areas.
‘Since ancient times, people have gathered medicinal plants to cure human and animal diseases,’ he said. ‘In the modern world however, medicinal plants are often neglected.’
From Mzingazi near Richards Bay, Mhlongo is the first in his family of four to graduate with a master’s degree – and to do so cum laude! Honoured as the top final-year student in Animal Science during his undergraduate degree, Mhlongo said his master’s degree taught him to be independent and to believe in himself, to persevere and to work hard.
‘My name is what motivates me to keep going as I always hope for the best and to do well,’ said Mhlongo. ‘In isiZulu, Ngihlezi ngiLindokuhle.’ (I always expect the best outcome in everything I do.)
Mhlongo, now in the process of registering for a PhD, chose to specialise in Animal Science because he believes it will equip him with the necessary skills to start his own business. He selected to study at UKZN because ‘it is one the best universities in South Africa.’
He thanked those who had helped him during his studies, including the NRF-CPT for funding, Professor Ignatius Nsahlai for his supervision, his colleagues and brothers Mbuso and Tholithemba for their support. In particular, he paid tribute to his mother who works as a domestic worker to provide for the family.
‘I am blessed to call Lindokuhle my son,’ said his delighted mother. ‘I am a single parent as his father died long ago. Lindokuhle has been a good child. He is a God-fearing family man. I am so proud of him.’
Words: Sabeliwe Langa
Photograph: Itumeleng Masa