A London transit worker died two weeks after a customer spat on her and claimed he had coronavirus.
Belly Mujinga and another worker were on duty at the Victoria transit station in central London on March 22 when they were approached by an unknown man, reported The Guardian. The man spat and coughed on the women and told them he had the virus.
“The gentlemen looked like a lawyer or something,” said one witness, who guessed the man was about 50 years old. “He asked us why we weren’t in the ticket office. He said: ‘you know I have the virus’. Then he spat and started coughing. We told our managers to call the police. I don’t know if they did.”
On April 2, less than two weeks later, Mujinga was admitted to a local hospital and placed on a ventilator. Three days later, the 47-year-old was dead.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo native left behind her 11-year-old daughter Ingrid and husband Lusamba Gode Katalay.
“Belly came home and told me everything,” Katalay told The Guardian.
“The man asked her what she was doing, why she was there, and she said they were working. The man said he had the virus and spat on them. They reported it.” Katalay revealed his wife had underlying respiratory issues.
They did not have a chance to see Mujinga before she passed.
“Me and Ingrid, we saw Belly on 2 April when she left for hospital,” he told Sky News. “Then we didn’t see her again. She’s dead and we buried her without being able to see her.”
Mujinga and her colleagues were afraid of contracting coronavirus, but Govia Thameslink Railway, their employer, did not provide personal protective equipment. Mujinga’s colleague also contracted the illness but made a full recovery.
“We begged not to go out. We said: ‘Our lives are in danger,’” an anonymous coworker who witnessed the incident told The Guardian. “We were told that we are not even allowed to put on masks,” the colleague added. “Govia has behaved reckless and negligent. They have failed in their duty of care. We are treated like we are robots.”
A Govia representative said “PPE for our staff was not required” for staffers based on government guidelines.
“We have regularly briefed our people to keep washing their hands and to socially distance as far as possible while working,” she added.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the incident “tragic.”
“The fact that she was abused for doing her job is utterly appalling,” Johnson said.
The British Transport Police is examining CCTV footage to determine the identity of the attacker. The family hopes the assailant will be punished.
“Justice must be done. When it happened, she could have bought it in the house,” said Agnes Ntumba, Mujinga’s cousin.
“The husband is here, the daughter is here. We could have lost all of them. We need justice, if the person is caught, he needs to do his sentence – for Belly.”