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Belly Mujinga: over a million people demand justice following rail worker’s death

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Kayleigh Dray
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Belly Mujinga: Tens of thousands of people gather in Hyde Park to protest against the abuse of the rights of Black people across the world and to call for an end to systemic racism and police brutality on 03 June, 2020

Belly Mujinga died of Covid-19 after she was spat on at work at London’s Victoria station.

Just like George Floyd, Belly Mujinga’s name was emblazoned on placards and banners at London’s recent anti-racism rally, which had been organised in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

And, on Friday 5 June, it was confirmed that over a million people have signed the ‘Justice For Belly’ petition, too.

Who is Belly Mujinga?

As many will already be aware, Mujinga is the Transport For London (TfL) worker who was coughed on and spat at by a man while she was working on the concourse of London’s Victoria Station. He claimed, at the time, to be infected with Covid-19.

Within days of the assault, Mujinga was diagnosed with the virus. And, just two weeks later, she died in a hospital in Barnet – leaving her husband, Lusamba, a widower and her 11-year-old daughter without a mother.

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Following Mujinga’s death, the British Transport Police (BTP) interviewed the man involved, but determined that the incident did not lead to the worker’s death. As such, they decided not to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Today, though, the number of people who have signed the ‘Justice For Belly’ change.org petition passed the one million mark – two months to the day since Mujinga died.

And, in response, the CPS has asked to review evidence of Mujinga’s death in “recognition of wider public interest”.

What has Belly Mujinga’s family said about the petition’s response?

Addressing all those who signed the petition, Lusamba Gode Katalay told ITV News: “On Wednesday, thousands of people protested in London to cry it loud that black lives matter. Black lives do matter. Belly’s life mattered. It mattered to me, to our daughter, our friends and family, to Belly’s colleagues, and now it matters to many thousands of you out there.

“We were there, united in our anger and our grief. United in our determination to be heard and in our determination to get change. We want justice for Belly.”

The widower added: “We want to know why she was sent out to work unprotected on the station concourse that day. We want to know why she was working when she had a respiratory condition.

“And we want justice for the families of all transport and key workers – they should all be eligible for the Government’s compensation scheme for NHS workers and carers who have sadly died from the virus.”

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What has the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association said about the ‘Justice For Belly’ petition?

Manuel Cortes, general secretary for Mujinga’s trade union, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), said: “It’s incredible to see the reaction to Belly Mujinga’s story, and two months on we’re asking people to direct their anger towards securing both justice for Belly and protection for all transport workers. As we say in the union movement, mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.

“Our union continues to fight for justice for Belly. We reported the station incident to Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate back in April and their investigation is ongoing.”

He continued: “We are in dialogue with her employer, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), as well as many supportive politicians and campaigners. We also need protection for her colleagues, so many of whom are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people working on the front line. Right across our transport networks it’s vital that staff are protected from this virus.

“Wednesday’s Black Lives Matter protest showed just how much Belly’s story has touched the public. We salute the Black Lives Matter campaign for fighting racism and our union continues to be part of the struggle against racism in any form.

Cortes added: “As the petition reached a million signatures overnight, it’s great to see the public and politicians rally behind Belly’s campaign and it’s important that this energy is directed towards securing positive change and protections for all workers.”

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What has British Transport Police said about the Belly Mujinga petition?

BTP has issued a statement saying it understands the depth of feeling over Mujinga’s case, and that there are questions over how it was decided there was insufficient proof of a crime to justify a prosecution.

“We can assure the public that we have comprehensively reviewed all the available evidence and have not identified any offences or behaviour that meets the threshold for prosecution,” it reads.

What can you do to support the ‘Justice For Belly’ movement?

“Belly was a vital essential worker but that was just her job,” reads the petition. “She was a mother, wife, sister and friend to many and her story is although upsetting, not likely individual in nature.

“If we are able to protect doctors and nurses, we must seek to put measures in place to adequately protect those individuals that make their journeys to work where necessary, possible. All frontline workers within Transport for London and their umbrella companies should be recognised equally and PPE should be a necessity, not a luxury.”

If you have yet to sign the ‘Justice For Belly’ petition, you can do so here.

You can also find a list of UK anti-racism charities and organisations to support here.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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