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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Belly Mujinga’s family still seeking answers two years after death | Coronavirus

The family of Belly Mujinga, who died with Covid after she was allegedly spat and coughed at while working at a London station at the start of the pandemic, say they are still lacking key information nearly two years after her death.

Their comments came as they marked her birthday on Saturday by adding a heart to the Covid Memorial Wall.

The 47-year-old transport worker died on 5 April 2020 after an alleged assault by an unknown man at Victoria station little more than two weeks before, leaving behind her husband, Lusamba Katalay, and their daughter Ingrid, who was then 11.

At the time, British Transport Police (BTP) interviewed a 57-year-old man in connection with the incident, but closed the case after concluding there was “no evidence to substantiate any criminal offences”.

Following a public outcry, the Crown Prosecution Service later reviewed the evidence and possible lines of inquiry, but concluded there was insufficient evidence and no charges were brought.

On Saturday, to mark Mujinga’s birthday, the family, MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and campaigners from the Covid Bereavement Families Campaign and Justice for Belly Mujinga Campaign gathered at the Covid memorial wall to celebrate her life and renew their calls for justice. The family added a heart to the memorial wall with the words “Love Belly”.

Speaking on behalf of the family, lawyer Lawrence Davies said: “We are seeking answers to why it was necessary for Belly to be on the station concourse and why key information was not handed over to the family.”

As the two-year anniversary of her death approaches, Mujinga’s family still do not know the identity of the person behind the alleged assault or exactly what happened.

Belly Mujinga
‘Robbed of the opportunity of having a family life’: Belly Mujinga. Photograph: PA

While he said the family were moving forward, Davies, the CEO of Equal Justice Solicitors, said: “Finding a measure of justice would be invaluable to them … Just to know why he did it, why it happened, because it’s just inexplicable on many levels.”

He said CCTV footage showed a large white man approaching Mujinga, who worked for Govia Thameslink Railway, and her colleague, then either coughing or spitting at them and shouting at them before backing off, pointing. He then stood in a queue and went on to go through the same motions again.

“When you double back and do the same thing again, that can’t be involuntary, that’s got to be a conscious choice,” said Davies. “And they didn’t do anything to provoke him, so quite what it was remains to be seen.”

The family is pursuing an inquest, due to take place in June, but it will only be permitted if the coroner can find expert evidence to show that Mujinga more likely than not contracted Covid at work.

If the inquest is allowed to take place, they hope her alleged attacker will be named – and, if not, her lawyer plans to request the information from BTP, who he said are not releasing the name of the suspect.

When she died, Davies said, she believed it was the incident that gave her Covid and wanted her husband to try to get justice.

“She was 47, your average life expectancy is about 81, so she’s lost at least 34 years and left her daughter behind her and she was robbed of the opportunity of having that family life,” he said.

BTP did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

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