Husband of train worker who died from coronavirus after thug spat at her says his ‘family’s lives have been destroyed’ – The Sun
Lusamba Katalay wept as he told how the loss of Belly Mujinga, 47, has destroyed the whole world for him and his 11-year-old daughter.
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His angry and anguished words come days after detectives quizzed and released a man aged 57.
He said: “I don’t know how I’d react if I saw the man who did this.
“I’m normally reasonable but I’m so devastated right now I might lose it and attack him, I just don’t know. And my anger won’t bring her back.”
Lusamba, 60, told exclusively how his wife, a former BBC journalist, pleaded with him not to let daughter Ingrid see her in her hospital bed during their final video call.
He said: “She told me that she didn’t want Ingrid to see her like that. She said, ‘Pray for me’.
“The next morning I got the call saying she’d died. She was our whole world. She’d do anything for anyone.”
Lusamba is pleased at Home Secretary Priti Patel’s vow to double the maximum common assault jail sentence to 12 months for anyone who launches a spitting attack on a key worker. But the grieving husband points out: “That’s still not justice for us. Because what’s a year compared to our lives being destroyed by him taking Belly from us?
“I’d also like her bosses to explain why my key worker wife hadn’t been given PPE, which might have saved her. They also put my daughter and myself in mortal danger.”
French-speaking Lusamba revealed how the last time he saw his wife in person was when an ambulance took her to Barnet Hospital from the couple’s flat in Hendon, North London, two days before her death.
Belly’s elderly mum — stuck in the African Democratic Republic of Congo where the couple were both born — could not be at her daughter’s funeral at Hendon Cemetery, which had a ten-mourner limit.
Sitting by his candlelit living room shrine, Lusamba told how his wife ate with the family as normal after being spat on at work on March 21.
“She told me she was on the Victoria Station concourse with a colleague when a male stranger approached her and asked, ‘Why are you here?’
“She told him, ‘Can’t you see my uniform? I’m working here.’ He told her, ‘I have coronavirus and I’m giving it to you,’ and spat at her.”
Police launched a major search for the smartly dressed man, said to be aged around 50, who was captured on CCTV. The attacker was branded “despicable” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman.
When Belly — who took medication and had respiratory problems following surgery four years ago — told her doctor a few days later she was told to self-isolate at home for three months because she was vulnerable.
Lusamba, a warehouseman currently out of work, continued: “By the following Sunday she slept on the sofa and took paracetamol as she wasn’t feeling good.
“By Tuesday she was taking oxygen at home, but when nothing had changed two days later she called an ambulance. When they took her away that was the last time Ingrid and I saw her.”
The next day the hospital called to ask Lusamba if he could persuade his wife to go on a ventilator, but she refused. He said: “She told me to come and get her as she wanted to go home. But I told her that she couldn’t leave the hospital, so she had to accept that.
“When she called me the next afternoon saying that she didn’t want Ingrid to see her, we knew she didn’t have long. That was the last time we heard her voice.
Her doctor told me she’d died the next day. My daughter and I had to self-isolate for a fortnight. There were only ten of us at Belly’s funeral, which even her mum couldn’t come to. That was difficult.”
If I see the man who did this I may lose it
Lusamba, who fell in love with Belly five years after first meeting her at a Catholic church event, added: “Ingrid wrote her mum a card the day after the spitting happened saying that she couldn’t imagine her life without her.
“Belly treasured that card. We’ll always miss her.”
Heartbroken Ingrid could only say: “Happy family holidays in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and the Congo are how I’ll remember Mum.”
A spokesman for British Transport Police said on Saturday: “A 57-year-old man from London was interviewed under caution last Sunday at a London police station.
“Detectives are investigating. They’re not looking to identify anyone else.”
Angie Doll, the managing director of Southern Railway, told The Sun: “Belly was a friendly and well-liked member of our team who we sorely miss. Our heart goes out to her husband and daughter. We continue to do all we can to protect our extraordinary key worker colleagues.”
A spokeswoman for Govia Thameslink Railway, which owns Southern, said: “At the point when the travelling public was advised by the Government to wear a face covering we provided masks to our frontline workers.
“Railway workers are not advised to wear PPE.”
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