Noela Rukundo was supposed to be dead. In fact, her husband, Balenga Kalala, had paid to have her killed, and he was just walking out of the funeral when he saw Rukundo step out of a car to confront him.
“Is it my eyes?” he said. “Is it a ghost?”
“Surprise! I’m still alive!” she replied.
Rukundo’s experience began when she and her husband flew from their home in Melbourne, Australia to her native country Burundi for her stepmother’s funeral. Saddened by the loss, Rukundo lay in bed until her husband told her to go outside for fresh air. That’s when a man stepped out and pulled a gun on her.
“Don’t scream,” she recalled him saying. “If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They’re going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.”
Rukundo was taken to a building and tied to a chair, where a man asked her,
“You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?”
“What are you talking about?” Rukundo demanded.
“Balenga sent us to kill you.”
When she said that they were lying, the men laughed and played back her husband’s voice from a phone saying, “Kill her.”
But, the men said, they did not believe in killing women, and besides that, they knew her brother. But they were going to tell her husband that she was dead and take his money. They set her free two days later and gave her a cell phone, recordings of their phone conversations with Kalala, and receipts for the money they received for the job.
“We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened,” the men told her.
Rukundo then made her way home after calling her pastor back home in Melbourne. The pastor helped her to get back to Australia and secretly return to the community even as her husband was planning her memorial. At the funeral, she made her comeback, confronting the man who tried to have her killed.
Although initially Kalala denied everything, he confessed to her in a conversation recorded by police and has since been sentenced to nine years in prison for incitement to murder.
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