Chinese ridesharing firm Didi Chuxing has suspended their Hitch carpooling service for reevaluation, after police stated a driver had raped and murdered a young woman, Gizmodo reports. This is the second fatality associated with the service in the last three months, both of which involved female victims.
Authorities in Leqjing city, within China’s eastern Zhejiang province, said they have arrested a 27-year-old suspect by the name of Zhong, who confessed to the rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman surnamed Zhao. Zhao entered Zhong’s car last Friday afternoon at 1pm local time. Just an hour later, the woman had messaged a friend for help before losing contact, the BBC reports.
The woman’s body has been recovered and the investigation remains ongoing.
Hitch, one of Didi’s numerous ridesharing services, enables passengers to snag a ride with drivers heading in the same direction.
“We are very sorry that the service has to be taken offline temporarily… We are sorry that we let you down because of our own problems,” wrote the company in a statement.
In addition to the carpooling service suspension, Didi has also fired two senior employees at the company.
Further details surrounding the incident are also quite damning for Didi. As Reuters notes, the company failed to act on a prior complaint about the suspected murderer: Zhong previously drove a female passenger to a remote location and then followed her as she exited the car.
The two recent murders associated with the app have also resulted in strong condemnation from China’s Ministry of Transport.
On Sunday, an official statement from the ministry said that these “vicious incidents have violated the life and safety of passengers” and have “exposed the gaping operational loopholes of the Didi Chuxing platform.” The ministry further added that “Didi should stop making empty promises and take concrete steps to ensure passengers’ safety.”
It appears the Ministry of Transport may be the least of Didi’s concerns as more and more people are claiming to boycott the app. Some netizens are going so far as to post screenshots of them deleting the ridesharing app from their phones, according to Whats On Weibo. For those still using the app, they are now being encouraged to turn on a setting that allows your friends to access your ride details and location.
[Cover: image screengrab via Pear video/Weibo]