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Noela Rukundo, a Burundian woman living in Melbourne, Australia got the shock of her life when she got to know her husband wanted her dead. He had hired gunmen for the job, but the gunmen reportedly found it unprincipled to kill women and children. They demanded extortion money from the husband and let her go after two days of captivity. “I felt like somebody who had risen again,” she told BBC.
It all started when Rukundo visited Burundi earlier last year in 2015 to attend her stepmother’s funeral. As she lay on the bed after an emotionally taxing day, she got a call from her husband who suggested her to take a walk. But as soon as she got out of the room, the gunmen stood there pointing a gun at her.
“I didn’t think anything. I just thought that he cared about me, that he was worried about me,” she was quoted as saying.
The gunmen asked her to keep shut or else they would shoot her. She was then put in a car and taken to another place where she was told by the gunmen who had actually hired them to kill her. “What did you do to this man? Why has this man asked us to kill you?” they exclaimed, telling her it was her husband. She couldn’t believe what they said but it was confirmed after they called him and put his call on loudspeaker. “Kill her,” he said. “I heard his voice. I heard him. I felt like my head was going to blow up,” said Rukundo.
Rukundo and her husband Balenga Kalala had arrived in Australia in 2004. They had met through a common social worker, fell in love and got married in 2005. Rukundo, a mother of eight, has three of her youngest children with Balenga. “I give him, beautiful and handsome, two boys and one girl. So I don’t know why he choose to kill me. I knew he was a violent man but I didn’t believe he can kill me. I loved this man with all my heart!” she said.
The gunmen, however, never had any plans to kill the woman. Reportedly, they were asked to kill Rukundo since November 2014. “We don’t kill women and children,” they told her and also that she must go and tell her story to other ‘stupid women’ like her about what happened. “Your husband is serious. Maybe we can spare your life, but other people, they’re not going to do the same thing. If God helps you, you’ll get to Australia,” they were quoted as saying.
Interestingly, they handed her enough proof to put her husband behind bars: a memory card containing recorded phone conversations with him regarding the murder and receipts for the Western Union money transfers.
The next thing she did was to call her pastor in Australia and asked for help. She reached Australia within three days where Kalala had informed everyone that her wife had died in an accident. He arranged for a funeral and it was only towards the end of the ceremony that she walked upto him and stood right in front.
“Surprise! I’m still alive!” she said.
In December 2015, Kalala was reportedly sentenced to nine years in prison and has no concrete explanation as to why he ordered to kill his own wife. “He say he wanted to kill me because he was jealous,” she said because he thought she might leave him for another man.
Rukundo is drawing flak by Melbourne’s African community for getting Kalala convicted, but strong-willed as she is, she said, “My situation, my past life? That is gone. I’m starting a new life now.”