A loving mother and railway ticket office worker has died of coronavirus after being spat at while on duty.
Belly Mujinga, 47, was on the concourse of Victoria station in south-west London in mid-March, when a member of the public, who said he had Covid-19 spat and coughed on her and a colleague. Within days of the assault, both women fell ill with the virus.
Her family have broken their silence after her death caused a furore over the safety of key workers, personal protective equipment (PPE), and protecting employees with underlying health problems.
Her husband Lusamba Gode Katalay said the man had asked his wife what she was doing and why she was there. "She told him she was working and the man said he had the virus and spat on her," he added.
Mujinga, who had underlying respiratory problems, was admitted to Barnet hospital and put on a ventilator but died on 5 April, the TSSA union said.
According to the family, Belly and her colleague had made it clear they were scared for their lives and asked not to be sent back out and to instead work from inside the ticket office.
Despite the pair saying they asked their employer to call the police, British Transport Police (BTP) reported that there is no record of this .
While the two colleagues had no PPE, there were not many people wearing masks or gloves at the time of the incident, which happened the day before the coronavirus lockdown began.
The union has reported the incident to the Railways Inspectorate for investigation and is taking legal advice on the matter.
The TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: “We are shocked and devastated at Belly’s death. She is one of far too many frontline workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus.
"As a vulnerable person in the 'at-risk' category, and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why she wasn't stood down from frontline duties early on in this pandemic," Mr Cortes said.
He added: "Our rail industry needs to have a very serious look at what tasks are deemed 'essential' and must put protections in place for all our members and our passengers."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman described the attack on the key worker as "despicable".
Ms Mujinga's employer, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said it "took any allegations extremely seriously" and that it was investigating all claims. Angie Doll, of GTR, said: "The safety of our customers and staff, who are key workers themselves, continues to be front of mind at all times and we follow the latest government advice."
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, recently announced that £60,000 would be paid to the survivors of health and care workers who die as a result of the pandemic. Latest figures show 42 Transport for London (TfL) workers have died with Covid-19, in addition to 10 Network Rail staff.
British Transport Police has launched an investigation into the incident. It said: “Inquiries are ongoing and anyone who has any information is asked to contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 and quoting reference 359 of 11/05/20.”