Justice In A Pandemic; Law Versus Status

Whether you’re a railway ticket officer or Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, will justice be equal or biased?

A few days ago, I was tuning into the news, and it was one of the most harrowing things I’ve heard, especially during such sombre times. Belly Mujinga, 47, a railway ticket office worker, died after being spat at by a man who claimed he had COVID-19. Her family were interviewed to get her story more exposure, so they can fight for justice, rightly so. Her husband said the last time he saw her was when she went in hospital with symptoms and never saw her again as she passed away. Her daughter was shown during the interview sobbing, but trying her upmost to keep back the tears.

Belly Mujinga
Belly Mujinga

Mrs Mujinga was on the concourse of London’s Victoria station on 22nd of March, when she was approached by the suspect. Her husband 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 and a colleague,” he added. According to the family, Belly and her colleague made clear they were scared for their lives and asked not to be sent back out and to instead work from inside the ticket office. But they were told that people were needed to work outside and were sent back for the rest of their shift.

Within days of the assault, both women fell ill with the virus. Mrs Mujinga died on the 2nd of April, leaving her husband and 11 year old daughter behind.

Belly Mujinga and husband Lusamba Gode Katalay
Belly Mujinga and husband Lusamba Gode Katalay

The family are fighting for justice, but even if the attacker is caught, lawyers say it is highly unlikely that someone who spits on someone would be charged with anything other than the relatively minor offence of battery, even if the victim person subsequently became seriously ill or died as a result of COVID-19. As if you could prove the causation element of the offence, then technically, in a situation where an individual suspects they could have COVID-19 and spits on another who then dies as a result of the infection, this could be manslaughter. After looking into more detail about the case that is only at early stages, it made me wonder.

The type of attack and the viciousness behind it, this had similarities to me that I’ve seen in other cases, regarding a different virus. We know viruses like HIV can be transmitted by bodily fluids. There’s one particular case that I know, Daryll Rowe was the first man in England, to be found guilty of intentionally setting out to spread the virus – HIV, and received at least 12 years up to life imprisonment. So, why should someone claiming they have a covid-19, which has killed hundreds of thousands worldwide so far, why should that be treated as a ‘minor assault’?

I understand that it’d be hard to prove, many cases like these are, as you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the perpetrator caused the dire outcome. But surely that’s something that must be fought for rather than taking the nonsensical and easy way out of ‘minor assault’? To think in the same segment I watched her family mourning, lawyers say it’s highly unlikely that he’d be charged with anything more ‘minor assault’, is nothing less than the feeling of disgust. If the attacker knows or thinks he has covid-19 and does the same to 10 or 100 more people, would the outcome still look like ‘minor assault’? A life has been lost, it’d be indescribably hard to know for a fact that the perpetrator transmitted the virus to her, but what were his intentions? He clearly knows spitting on someone has a very high chance of spreading the virus. Especially such a serious illness, what was his intent saying “I have COVID” then spitting on her and her colleague immediately afterwards before they could even react to what he said? I think it’s quite obvious he intended to harm them, to what degree? We can’t say, but an action like spitting on someone when you’re contaminated or think you are, can lead to fatal consequences, and there has been a fatality. It also left me questioning..

There seem to be many discrepancies surrounding how her workplace dealt with this, and also a very perplexing almost questionable way around how lawyers are making out like they’re just voicing the law as they know it, almost even sounding like her family shouldn’t even begin their fight for more justice than a ‘minor assault’ charge, as they’d virtually have no chance. But would these lawyers be so helpful in sharing their knowledge with how they think this case will be handled, if the stature of the victim involved was more prominent?

If this happened to someone of a certain ‘social status’ like a Prime Minister/President/Member of Royal Family, and it resulted in the same tragedy, do you think they’d very likely be charged with ‘minor assault’, or manslaughter? As when Prime Minister, Boris Johnson was taken ill, he had to self isolate and take a step back from working, rightly so. I don’t think anyone would have expected otherwise. But when Mrs Mujinga, apparently pleaded to work in the ticket office, more protected from the general public after the attack, the request was turned down.

Every human life is equal, it’s only society and man-made surroundings that sometimes make us feel somewhat disconnected from others. When we humbly start out this life, we don’t have preconceived notions, we see each other as equal, as that’s all we naturally know. But somewhere between growing up and adult life, that’s where we learn that society may not view individuals as equals, but they might see us in categories. And throughout the duration of your life, you realise more categories arise. Where do these come from? They’re man-made. So when you rely on the justice system, does it truly see everyone as equal, or can it favour certain individuals?

Daughter of Belly Mujinga
Daughter of Belly Mujinga

Share your thoughts, and share Belly Mujinga’s story as much as you can.

24 thoughts on “Justice In A Pandemic; Law Versus Status

  1. So sad, I can’t bear to think of children losing a parent. I imagine he did not know he had Covid, because most people don’t know unless they are ill in hospital. That doesn’t lessen his crime, that of being a totally pathetic individual who wanted to frighten others, while smugly assuming he himself was safe. As there would also be no proof he didn’t have the virus at the time, he is guilty of an assault that he knew could result in the victim dying. I think we can all imagine a variety of punishments he should endure….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Extremely saddening. Yes of course, but he might have been aware that he was displaying certain symptoms at the very least. Obviously spitting on someone oblivious if you have the virus or not, is disgraceful. But spitting on someone when you may have the virus and even saying to them I have COVID just before the attack, shows the dark intent he had, in my eyes.
      And it’ll be virtually impossible to know if he had the virus or not at the time, but you’d have to look at the possibility of him having it.
      One way of knowing would be an antibody test, but because they still haven’t caught him, it’d be extremely difficult to know when exactly he had contracted the virus. But the intent and the malicious nature of the attack, I think should be more than a minor assault, as that wouldn’t allow for if he did actually have the virus.

      Here here! It’s harrowing to see in such difficult times, there are those few individuals that are showing no remorse or kindness. Quite awful

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s sooooo wrong in so many ways!!!! I really hope that they catch the person and punish them severely!!! I really hope and pray that the family is doing okay and you did a great job expressing her story luv 💁🏻‍♀️❣️Stacy Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Assault with intent to do bodily harm, that was the clear motive; COVID-19 yes or no. Environmental severe crisis time and time shows the deep seated opportunistic hatred and lawlessness deep in the torn national fabric of even the greatest of nation states.

    It is no mystery. Had he spat on any famous connected person, there would be a massive manhunt immediately. All close circuit surveillance cameras into and out of the target area would have been gathered up and scanned time and time again. We know this is a truth. This is a just cause for someone in the host nation to start a Crowd Fund for legal, investigative, and family needs. Society is in this families debt. If such a fund is brought to my attention, limited as my funds are, I will contribute though this may have happened in another country.

    Thanks for sharing this, and I hope there will be a humanitarian response. Need I say, Crowd Funding has been done for politicians who at least had the starter funds on hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting…Indeed her story needs to be told. You know, I am law student from Zambia and our legal system heavily borrows from the UK. So, I think I can understand a little why it’s this way. Although the battery itself was lethal, it didn’t go far enough to establish that it was the sole and operating cause of death. I agree with you Antonia. The causation link is weak. If the prosecution could prove that the spitting led directly to her death, then justice would prevail. However, if there are other factors such as an underlying condition of another disease, then the causation link would be weak. All in all, proving beyond all reasonable doubt that the spitting directly led to her death would be difficult but not impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course. Hopefully the correct justice will be served, as acts like these should not be tolerated, by just a menial assault change. But we can’t always rely on the justice system, as sometimes there are discrepancies, purposefully or not. But hopefully that doesn’t happen in this case.
      Thankyouu so much Yaiman for sharing your insight and wise words!😁😊

      Like

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