I have had several constituents from Mid-Sussex email me regarding the tragic death of Belly Mujinga and my thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time. I am writing to provide you with the latest update I have on the situation.
To spit and cough at anyone is disgraceful. Belly Mujinga was simply doing her job at Victoria station, helping those who needed to travel during the pandemic. I am absolutely appalled the man in question its reported could have done this to a key worker. Mrs Mujinga was not only a key worker working in a railway ticket office helping to keep our country going during this public health crisis, she was also a loving wife and mother to an 11-year-old daughter. Particularly as a mother of two girls, both around that age, it is absolutely heart-breaking to know another daughter has lost a mother to this unforgiving virus, especially in these circumstances.
The British Transport Police (BTP) released a statement regarding the alleged incident after conducting its investigation. It concluded, based on key witness statements and having reviewed the CCTV footage, that ‘there was insufficient evidence to substantiate that any criminal offences had taken place and that the death of Ms Mujinga did not occur as a consequence of that incident’. In recognition of the wider public interest, I understand British Transport Police have now invited the Crown Prosecution Service to conduct an independent review of the available evidence. I will closely follow any developments and welcome the fact the CPS will now have the opportunity to review this case. I am passing on your thoughts and concerns on this to my ministerial colleagues in the Department for Transport on your behalf, who have already assured me that they stand ready to do everything they can to support the safety of all frontline transport workers.
I know there can be no consolation for the families who have lost loved ones who work in the public sector, like Mrs Mujinga, due to this virus, but I am pleased it has raised justified awareness of the need to further protect our public staff. Further guidance has been issued to transport operators to help them identify and address risks to their staff as the lockdown eases. For example, the updated guidance encourages operators to carry out risk assessments, set out clear rules on interacting with passengers, re-deploy clinically vulnerable people into roles where the risk is lower and use screens to create a physical barrier at places such as ticket offices. I have been reassured the Government are working with transport operators to ensure staff are provided with and wear face coverings where appropriate for their role, I have seen this myself having travelled from Haywards Heath to Victoria over the last two weeks.
In addition, operators have put in place protocols to ensure both public and private areas and vehicles/carriages are kept clean to stop transmission of coronavirus through people touching contaminated surfaces. Buttons, handrails, vehicle keys and other touch points should be subject to increased cleaning.
I hope you this update was helpful, stay safe!