Woman Crashes Her Own Funeral And Sends Her Husband To Jail

Balenga Kalala was the object of intense sympathy after he told friends and family his wife, Noela Rukundo, had died—but then she showed up at her own funeral.

January 26, 2022
Noela Rukundo wearing a black blazer

Noela Rukundo

Noela Rukundo

Photo by: Screenshot via The Washington Post

Screenshot via The Washington Post

Noela Rukundo

Noela Rukundo’s eight children were nearly left without a mother, but it turned out the hitmen hired to kill her had a few principles.

The Burundi native returned to the African nation in early February 2015 for her stepmother’s funeral while her husband, Balenga Kalala, stayed in Melbourne, Australia, with their children.

Following the service, Rukundo checked in with Kalala by phone, and he encouraged her to take a walk, according to the BBC. She took his advice, not realizing the danger awaiting her outside the hotel.

Once outside, Rukundo found herself face-to-face with a man wielding a gun. She was abducted, blindfolded, and driven to a building where she was tied to a chair. Her abductors informed her they had been paid to kill her and demanded to know what she had done to make her husband so angry.

Rukundo didn’t believe the kidnappers at first, according to the Washington Post. She said Kalala—her partner of 10 years—would never betray her that way.

To prove it, the hitmen called Kalala and she heard his voice come across the speaker.

“Kill her.”

The hitmen, however, had other plans. They told Rukundo that they don’t kill women or children, though they had gladly accepted the $7,000 from her husband to pay for the hit and then extorted more money from the man after Rukundo was in their possession.

After two days, the hitmen released the terrified woman, gave her all the evidence she would need in order to go to the police once she returned to Australia, and told her she had three days to leave Burundi.

While Rukundo was being held, Kalala told the couple’s family and friends that his wife had been killed in an accident. Melbourne’s African community rallied around the man, who played the part of grieving husband.

Five days after she was first abducted, Rukundo was back in Melbourne, sitting in a car and watching her husband receive friends who had come to comfort him because of her death.

When the mourners were gone, she confronted her husband and called the police.

Kalala was motivated by jealousy, according to police. He ordered the hit because he suspected his wife was cheating on him—something she denied to the BBC. In December of 2015, he pleaded guilty to incitement to murder and was sentenced to nine years in an Australian prison.

ABC Australia reported that Kalala was eligible for parole after serving six of the nine years, meaning he was likely released from prison in late 2021.

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