Let’s file this under “weird news of the week” because this story is truly amazing. In a story that sounds like it was ripped from a Lifetime movie of the week plot line, a woman in Melbourne, Australia, narrowly escaped being murdered in mid-February of 2015. Noela Rukondo’s husband of ten years, Balenga Kalala, coordinated to have her kidnapped and then murdered by a group of three hit men, reports the Washington Post. Yes, her own husband tried to have her knocked off.
The story starts innocuously enough. Rukondo and her husband flew to attend her stepmother’s funeral in her native country of Burindi. She was understandably upset and sad about the loss of a close family member and after returning from the service, she retired to bed to rest. Her husband feigned sympathy and in a calculated move, encouraged her to go outside for “fresh air.” It was there that he had arranged for a gunman to come out of the darkness and kidnap her with a gun.
Yes, her stepmother had just died. Instead of comforting her he chose to have her kidnapped and killed. This man is not winning the husband of the year trophy. Rukundo says the kidnapper pointed a gun at her and said:
“Don’t scream. If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They’re going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.”
So Rukundo remained silent and was driven to a location about a half hour away, blindfolded and terrified. She was brought into an empty building and tied to a chair. She couldn’t see anything but she did hear a group of men talking. One said to her:
“You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?”
She had no idea what they were talking about. She was home for a funeral. Why would someone want her dead? When she demanded to know who had ordered her to be killed they said:
“Balenga sent us to kill you.”
Balenga is her husband. She didn’t believe them and told them that they were lying. He had told her to get “air.” They told her she “was a fool” and made a phone call on speakerphone.
The male voice said:
The voice was her husband’s. She fainted. When she awoke, the kidnappers told her they were not going to kill her because they didn’t believe in killing women and they knew her brother. That was a shocking twist she hadn’t expected. They said they would keep her husband’s money and set her free.
Plot twist number 2!
They kept their promise and left her on the side of the road two days later with a cellphone and recordings of their phone calls with her husband that confirmed he had requested she be murdered and receipts for the $7,000 he had given to them for her murder.
Wow, plot twist 3!
Hit men with a conscience? Unheard of! Except in a Lifetime movie. Although in those movies the hit men fall in love with the mark and they exact justice on the criminal husband, right? Ok, not in this story.
So Rukundo focused on her next steps. She plotted to get her despicable, attempted murderous, scheming husband caught and to ensure that was brought to justice. She received help from the Kenyan and Belgian embassies to return to Australia, according to The Age. Her husband was unaware of her return home or the fact that she was even alive. She reached out to her church pastor and with his help, was able to return to her own neighborhood to finalize the steps necessary to get him arrested. This is where the story gets truly amazing.
All the while, her husband played the sad widow. Poor Kalala. His wife tragically dies and he has to return home to raise the kids and rebuild his life. The entire community bought this story and rallied around him. He reached out to their friends and the community to share his story of sadness about her unexpected death in a “tragic accident” overseas. He received so much support and comfort in those five days, support that would end very quickly if Rukundo’s plan came to fruition.
The funeral was held on February 22, 2015. Just as the last of their neighbors and friends were leaving her own home, Rukundo walked up to him, clearly still alive. Kalala must have thought she was a ghost. He paid $7,000 to have her killed. He was assured by three very reputable hitmen that she was indeed dead. But she was not. She states that he put his hands on his head and wailed:
“Is it my eyes? Is it a ghost?”
Bwa ha ha. No, asshat. Not a ghost! She replied:
“Surprise! I’m still alive!”
He didn’t believe she was real and reached out to touch her. She didn’t move. He started screaming. He knew he was caught. She wasn’t dead. The ruse was up. He went from elated she was dead to fake mourning about her death to the realization that he was caught. Damn. This went downhill fast.
“I’m sorry for everything” he screamed.
She didn’t accept his apology. He begged for her to forgive him. Of course it was a huge misunderstanding. He didn’t want her killed. He didn’t mean for them to kidnap her or blindfold her or use a gun. He paid $7,000 for a big game. He didn’t really mean what he said on speakerphone. She wasn’t buying it.
Watch courtesy of The Washington Post:
Rukundo called the police and he was arrested for incitement to murder, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp. He pled guilty and was sentenced to nine long years in prison.
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