Tensions have skyrocketed in a section of Peckham in south London following claims a Black youth was savagely beaten by Afghan shopkeepers.
Angry protestors took to the streets to vent their fury last Saturday (September 22), the latest in a series of protests opposite Khan’s Mobile Accessories shop in Peckham Rye Lane, southeast London.
Organisers also said they plan to have another demonstration this Saturday (September 29).
The series of protests began in early September after witnesses claim they saw the 20-year-old university student being chased and attacked by a large group of Afghan men after going into the shop.
The young man did not want to be identified but his angry mother, Charmaine said he was attacked at Khan’s Mobile Accessories shop when he tried to return a faulty Blackberry PlayBook he bought on August 24 for £140.
She said shopkeepers agreed to pay for the faulty PlayBook but gave her a partial installment only.
“They later agreed to pay. They paid [me] £70 and asked him to return for the rest later. When he returned for the rest of the money [on September 5], they refused to give it,” she added.
Charmaine, 50, claimed shop owner, Zahr Khan, 38, instead told her son the shop had purchased the playbook for the £70 they had already given, which was half of the PlayBook’s price.
The mother-of-two, who has lived in Peckham for 32 years, alleged: “An argument ensued between them. The manager then threw tea at my son and told him to leave the shop. Eyewitnesses saw at least 20 people chase him across the road while hitting him.
“He was chased by over 20 Afghan men. He was chased all the way to Peckham Rye station where he had to get on a train to escape,” she said.
Jacque Fergus, who witnessed the chase, later set a protest group, which has been demonstrating every Saturday.
This is not the first time shopkeepers have beaten someone, she reported.
“Others have been beaten when they try to return faulty goods,” alleged Jacque Fergus, founder of the Reel Ashanti Justice Centre in Peckham.
She said she plans to continue the protest until CCTV cameras are installed around the shops.
“Enough is enough. They have no respect for us but they want to take our money.”
However, the shopowner has disputed the claims.
Khan told reporters he did not throw tea at the young man.
He said he and other shopkeepers have never beaten anyone but simply keep a record of disputes and report them to the police.
He claimed “the boy beat me up instead. He stabbed me with a knife and put his finger in my eye.”
Charmaine has hit back at these claims, calling them “untrue”. She said: “photographic evidence and eyewitness accounts back my son’s story”.
Southwark police confirmed officers did go to the shop around 4.30pm on September 5 and are investigating claims from both the shopkeeper and the 20-year-old.
A police spokesperson said: “It is alleged that a 38-year-old man and a 20-year-old man were both assaulted but neither have made a formal allegation to police. No arrests have been made.”
In the meantime, local councillors and police say they have been trying to calm the situation.
Councillor Dora Dixon-Fyle, cabinet member for children’s services at Southwark Council, appealed for calm, adding “we do not achieve anything by violence”.
Chief Inspector Rob Harper from Southwark Safer Neighbourhood, added: “We have been in contact with both parties to try and resolve this matter and prevent it from affecting the wider community in Rye Lane.
“Our investigations are ongoing at this stage.”