Balenga Kalala of Melbourne, Australia, was stunned after his wife, Noela Rukundo, who he thought was dead after hiring a hitman to kill her, shows up at her own funeral alive and well. According to VIBE, Noela recently went public with her story after she was held hostage at gunpoint on February 20, 2015, by a gang of men who her husband and father of her three children allegedly hired to kill her.
She told reporters that after returning to Africa to attend her stepmother’s funeral, she checked in at a local hotel where her husband arranged for her to stay. As she was settling in, she received a call from Balenga, suggesting she walk outside to get some fresh air since she was still saddened by the death of her stepmother. Taking his advice, she went outside and found herself starring down the barrel of a gun.
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An unidentified man approached the woman and told her “Don’t scream. If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They’re going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.” Noela stated that she did exactly what she was told, including walking to the gunman’s car, where she said she sat “Between two men. One had a small gun, one had a long gun. And the men said to the driver, ‘Pass us a scarf.’ Then they cover my face.”
Noela stated that she remained silent for the entire 30- to 40-minute ride. Once they reached their destination, she said she heard “One of the kidnappers tell his friend, ‘Go call the boss.'” Noela was still blindfolded and recalled hearing doors opening, “But I didn’t know if their boss was in a room or if he came from outside.”
“They asked me, ‘What did you do to this man? Why has this man asked us to kill you?’ And then I tell them, ‘Which man? Because I don’t have any problem with anybody.’ They say, ‘Your husband!’ I say, ‘My husband can’t kill me, you are lying!’ And then they slap me.
“After that the boss says, ‘You are very stupid, you are a fool. Let me call who has paid us to kill you.'”
Balenga Kalala paid for wife to be killed in Africa pleads guilty: Balenga Kalala (pictured), from Kings Park… https://t.co/Ha6Eb8mklt
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According to the Washington Post, one of the kidnappers called “the boss” and said, “We already have her.” When Noela heard her husband’s voice on the other end of the receiver saying “Kill her,” she felt as if her “head was going to blow up.” She was in disbelief that her own husband would hire a hitman to kill her. But what shocked her the most was when the kidnappers described to Balenga where they were going to “chuck her body.”
Although Noela knew her husband was a violent man because of his past, she was shocked that he was capable of hiring a hitman to have her killed because she “loved this man,” who she married 10 years ago, “with all my heart.” She told reporters that she gave him a beautiful daughter and two handsome sons, so “I don’t know why he choose to kill me.”
“I said to myself, I was already dead. Nothing I can do can save me. But he [kidnapper] looks at me and then he says, ‘We’re not going to kill you. We don’t kill women and children.'”
“He told me I’d been stupid because my husband paid them the deposit in November. And when I went to Africa it was January. He asked me, ‘How stupid can you be, from November, you can’t see that something is wrong?'”
After being held at an undisclosed location for two days, Noela was freed and left beside the road, stranded. But they left her “a mobile phone, recordings of their phone conversations with Balenga, and receipts for the $7,000 in Australian dollars they allegedly received in payment” as evidence to send her husband to jail for hiring a hitman to kill her.
Three days later, Noela made it back to Melbourne just in time for her funeral service, which was being held at her home. She waited in the car until everyone left to face her husband. When she showed up at her own funeral, her husband was shocked and the first thing she said he did was put his hand over his head and said, “Is it my eyes? Is it a ghost?”
Balenga’s wife, who he told friends and family members died in a tragic car accident, said “Surprise! I’m still alive!” And that’s when he broke down and apologized for what he had done.
Noela immediately notified police and Balenga was arrested and taken to the precinct where he confessed to hiring a hitman to kill his wife because he allegedly thought she was going to leave him for another man. On December 11, 2015, Balenga was sentenced to nine years in prison for incitement to murder.
[Image via Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla]