Woman Attends Her Own Funeral, Leaves Husband Shocked

Noela Rukundo sat in a car outside her home in Melbourne, Australia as she waited for the last attendees to leave her funeral. She finally spotted her husband, and she got out of her car. She remembered her husband saying, "Is it my eyes? Is it a ghost?" She exclaimed, "Surprise! I'm still alive!"

Her husband looked terrified because it was only five days earlier when he ordered a team of hit men to kill Rukundo, his partner of 10 years. They had him pay several thousand dollars and told him they committed the crime. In an interview with the BBC, Rukundo said her husband touched her shoulder then yelled, "I'm sorry for everything."

Rukundo had met her husband, Kalala, when she arrived in Australia from Burundi. He was a recent refugee from Congo, and they had the same social worker at the resettlement agency that helped them to get on their feet. Kalala knew English, so their social worker often recruited him to translate for Rukundo.

They fell in love, moved in together in a Melbourne suburb of Kings Park, and had three children. Rukundo had five children from a previous marriage. Rukundo learned that Kalala fled a rebel army that killed his wife and young son. She also learned he was violent. She told the BBC, "But I didn't believe he can kill me."

Her ordeal started a year ago when she and Kalala flew to attend her stepmother's funeral in Burundi. She went to her hotel in Bujumbura when her husband called to tell her to go out for fresh air. The minute she stepped out, a man pointed a gun at her saying, “Don’t scream. If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They’re going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.”

She was blindfolded and kidnapped, taken to a building and tied to a chair. She then heard men asking “You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?” Rukundo replied, “What are you talking about?” The men said, “Balenga sent us to kill you.” She then heard her husband's voice coming through a speakerphone. He said, "Kill her," and Rukundo fainted.

The men set her free after two days. The explained they were never going to kill her, and they knew her brother. They did keep her husband's money and told him she was dead. They also gave her a cellphone, recordings of their phone conversations with Kalala, and receipts for the $7,000 in Australian dollars they allegedly received in payment. They also told Rukundo, “We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened."

Afraid, yet determined, Rukundo started planning her next move with help from the Kenyan and Belgian embassies to return to Australia, according to The Age. Then she called the pastor of her church in Melbourne. She also told her pastor what happened, and he helped her get back without telling Kalala. Her husband had since told everyone that she died in a tragic accident.

She told the BBC, "I felt like somebody who had risen again." At first, Kalala denied involvement. Although, Rukundo was able to get him to confess in a phone conversation secretly recorded by police. Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said, “Had Ms. Rukundo’s kidnappers completed the job, eight children would have lost their mother. It was premeditated and motivated by unfounded jealousy, anger and a desire to punish Ms. Rukundo.”

Kalala tried to use the excuse that he wanted to kill her because he thought she was going to leave him for another man. Rukundo denies his accusation.

Kalala pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison for incitement to murder. Kalala now has to raise eight children alone. In addition, her community has given her some backlash for what she did. Her back door was broken, and someone left threatening messages for her.

She said, “I will stand up like a strong woman. My situation, my past life? That is gone. I’m starting a new life now.”

Photo: Wet Paint

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