An investigation will be conducted into the death of Belly Mujinga, the railway worker who died with Covid-19 after an alleged incident in which she was coughed and spat out by a customer.
Mujinga, 47, died last April, two weeks after the alleged incident in the concourse of London Victoria Station where she worked as a sales assistant for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
Senior Coroner Andrew Walker has ruled that an inquest must be held into Mujinga’s death, which his family has campaigned for, as his death may have been “unnatural”.
He said there were concerns about the provision of PPE and its deployment in Victoria. Two other employees also fell ill while working at the station, one of whom died of a Covid-19 infection, Walker said during a hearing in North London Coroner’s Court.
British Transport Police investigated Mujinga’s death, but concluded there was insufficient evidence. After a public outcry over his death, which raised serious questions about the safety of frontline workers during the pandemic, the CPS examined the evidence and possible investigative leads several months later, before concluding that the There was insufficient evidence and no charges were laid.
Walker said there were grounds to suspect the death was “unnatural” and may have involved “human error”. He said the incident occurred at a time when there was a “recognized increased risk to frontline workers from PPE” and therefore concerns over its provision by his employer GTR.
Mujinga’s union, the Transport Personnel Association (TSSA), described the decision as “a step forward in the struggle for justice.” Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of TSSA, said in a statement: “Belly’s death has touched the nation and has been deeply felt by so many transport workers who have courageously been on the front lines throughout this terrible pandemic. .
“We just need to know what happened and what lessons can be learned. For all of these reasons, and to bring peace to Belly’s family, it is undoubtedly in the public interest that an investigation be conducted.
Lawrence Davies, an attorney for the Mujinga family, said he welcomed the coroner’s decision to conduct an inquest: “This will address the health and safety issues (lack of PPE) facing frontline workers during the Covid pandemic, and especially those with underlying health. issues, along with the racism and harassment frontline workers at BAME face at work, and this will finally hold us accountable to the intemperate white man who the family says assaulted Belly and her coworker, Motolani, twice in the lobby of Victoria Station on March 21, 2020. “
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps has previously told lawyers for the family he will wait for the coroner’s decision before he responds to calls for a public inquiry.
Walker said a date for the investigation would be released in due course.