Tributes to Rainham charity worker

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A charity worker was found dead in her home with Covid-19 a day after failing to join a live-streamed memorial service for a former colleague, her friends said today.

Tributes have been paid to Josephine Mukanjira, 38, who had been self-isolating in her flat in Rainham, with coronavirus symptoms.

Fears were raised for her welfare when she did not attend an online ceremony for friend Mona Mahmoud, 42, an interpreter for charity Citizens UK who died with Covid-19 a week earlier.

Ms Mukanjira’s partner is understood to have raised the alarm after visiting her flat when she did not answer the phone. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene on April 17.

Originally from Uganda, she had been an administrator for Citizens UK, based in Whitechapel, for more than a decade before taking a job as an accountant.

Her friend Bekele Woyecha, senior project manager at Citizens UK, said: “I called her to tell her about Mona and she said she already knew and was upset by it.

“I told her about the memorial service and we spoke about life, the lockdown, everything you would with a friend and she said she would join the service the next day.

“When she didn’t I was surprised because she was not the sort of person who would miss something like that. When I got the call days later that she had been found dead I couldn’t believe it. This virus has taken two of the strongest, kindest women I know.”

Neil Jameson, the charity’s founder and director, described her as “the very best of humanity … a quiet, inspirational leader. So much missed.”

Ms Mukanjira was also a church warden for St Martin’s in Plaistow.

Rev Jeanette Meadway said: “Jo was very organised and welcoming member of the church, always willing to help. She always seemed so fit and healthy. She had been ill quite early on before the lockdown, but seemed to be recovering.”

Fellow church warden Manuel Yemoh added: “Josephine was a dedicated member of our church for about eight years. She was the cornerstone of anything that happened in the church.

“She was running the show behind the scenes and keeping our church going through many difficult times. She attended church with a smile every Sunday and knew every member personally.

“Her passing has left a hole in the church which it going to take a long time to fill. However we know she is smiling down on us to make sure we keep on going.”

Family and friends around the world joined a memorial service streamed on Zoom, including her mother and extended family in Uganda.

Mr Woyecha, who is fundraising for Ms Mukanjira’s family, added: “Jo lost both her brothers and was supporting their children and her mum. We want to do everything we can to help her mum.”

Mona Mahmoud
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Rachael Burford

Local Democracy Reporter