On Friday, a driver for Didi Hitch’s ride-sharing service killed his 20-year-old female passenger in eastern China’s Wenzhou City. Two days later, more information surface as the police and social media got involved to reveal more.
One of the most shocking details is that the suspected murderer forced the victim transfer an amount of 9,000 yuan (about 1,320 US dollars) to his account before raping and taking her life on the mountainside.
“I’m sorry that we caught the killer but had not saved your life,” reads in a heartfelt letter written by a local policeman, which shows the whole process of the rescue mission.
The female surnamed Zhao was on the way to a friend’s birthday party when the driver made a detour to a desolate mountainous area instead of the simple highway route. At some point during the ride, the diver tied Zhao’s hands and feet, taped off her mouth and stabbed her neck before pushing her off a cliff.
According to the police, only three cars passed the Didi on the mountain road that day.
Although the passenger sent the SOS message to her friends and the family immediately contacted Didi customer service, they didn't pass on the information about the driver to the police for several hours.
“The incident shows the many deficiencies with our customer service processes, especially the failure to act swiftly on the previous passengers' complaint and the cumbersome and rigid process of information sharing with the police,” the company said in the statement .
“Although the suspect had no prior criminal record, had provided authentic documentation and passed a facial recognition test, the incident still shows many deficiencies with our customer service processes,” Didi said in a statement on Sunday.
The company also promised to suspend its ride-sharing service nationwide from August 27 and reevaluate the business model. A plan for improving compliance will be submitted to the authorities by Sept. 1, and the company pledged to upgrade the customer service system and improve the mechanism of providing evidence for the police.
The brutal case aroused national attention as netizens on China’s twitter-like Weibo flocked to the victim’s profile to express their condolences with moving comments. However, the victim’s brother canceled her account in order to protect her privacy and prevent photos of her from being spread.
On Sunday, China’s Ministry of Transport (MOT), together with the municipal transport and public security watchdog in Beijing and Tianjin, held talks with DiDi and urged it to carry out an overhaul of its carpooling service and ensure the safety of passengers.
The MOT’s official website published an article to criticize the company’s management loophole on Monday. “Another case happened just three months after the tragedy with the young flight attendant. It reflects the company’s ignorance of the law and a scientific safety management system.”
Hitch is just one of several rideshare services run by DiDi, and allows drivers to pick up passengers for free if they’re going in the same direction. This new suspension only affects Hitch, and DiDi’s other commercial rideshare services remain in operation.