The coronavirus has claimed the life of a British railway worker allegedly spat on by a man earlier this year.
Now, Belly Mujinga’s family is demanding justice and raising poignant questions about the safety of essential employees during the pandemic.
Mujinga, 47, was working on the concourse at Victoria Station in London on March 22 when she and a colleague were assaulted by a man who claimed to have the coronavirus, according to The Guardian. The man reportedly spat and coughed in their faces before taking off.
Within days, both women fell sick with the virus.
Mujinga, the mother of an 11-year-old girl, was later admitted to Barnet general hospital and put on a ventilator but died on 5 April. Her cousin Agnes and a colleague who witnessed the incident said Mujinga had pleaded against working outside the protection of the ticket office without PPE.
They alleged her employers, Govia Thameslink Railway, knew she had respiratory problems but still insisted she work on the concourse and interact with passengers. They claimed she was also sent back to work on the concourse after the spitting incident despite physically shaking because of the trauma of what had happened.
A colleague who witnessed the incident said: “We begged not to go out. We said: ‘Our lives are in danger.’”
But, she said, they were told they had to go out.
“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 spokeswoman for Govia said official government advice at the time of the incident was that “PPE for our staff was not required”.
British Transport Police have since launched an investigation to find the accused spitter, BBC News reported.