A 20-year-old woman in eastern China’s Zhejiang province has allegedly been raped and murdered by a driver registered with the ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, just months after a similar case prompted the company to overhaul its safety measures.
Police in the city of Yueqing reported Saturday that a woman surnamed Zhao booked a car through Didi Hitch — the company’s social ride-sharing arm — to a destination in nearby Yongjia County on Friday afternoon. After realizing that the driver was not taking a normal route, Zhao sent a number of text messages to friends and family asking for help. When Zhao’s family later tried to contact her, Zhao could not be reached, and the family informed the police. On Saturday morning, the driver, surnamed Zhong, was arrested. He admitted to raping and killing Zhao, whose body was found hours later by the side of the road.
Map reviewing the Didi Hitch passenger death in Shangtang Town, Zhejiang province, and the security flaws the tragedy revealed. Liu Chang, Zou Manyun, and Wang Yasai/Sixth Tone
Following the incident, Didi released a statement apologizing to the victim and stating that the company held “unavoidable responsibility” for what happened. Another female passenger had filed a complaint against Zhong on Thursday, claiming he repeatedly requested that she sit in the front passenger seat and attempted to follow her after she got out of the vehicle. Didi’s customer service did not investigate that matter further.
Zhao’s family and friends claim that they tried to obtain Zhong’s license plate number through Didi’s customer service platform in order to pass on his details to police, but were rebuffed on privacy grounds. Didi’s statement said that the company has since passed on the information to law enforcement.
The killing took place as the world’s most valuable ride-hailing company is trying to rebuild its reputation following another high-profile murder case in May, when a 21-year-old flight attendant in central China’s Henan province was allegedly killed by her Didi driver. In the aftermath of that case, Didi overhauled its security measures, temporarily suspending its Hitch service from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and closing down a passenger review system in which male drivers sometimes posted sexist comments about female passengers.
This article has been updated to include an infographic.
Editor: Matthew Walsh.
(Header image: A man accesses the Didi smartphone app in Shenyang, Liaoning province, Feb. 28, 2014. VCG)