After 11 years of living as a refugee in Australia, a mother of eight returned to her hometown in east Africa to attend a family member’s funeral.
In 2015, Noela Rukundo was relaxing in her hotel room when her husband, Balenga, called her. He casually suggested she step outside for some air.
But as Noela stood outside in the sun, a man suddenly approached her with a gun, forced her into a car, and drove them to a remote building.
Before she knew it, Noela was tied up and being held captive by a group of kidnappers.
The man suddenly pulled out a gun and told Noela not to scream. He forced her into a car and drove to a remote building.
Noela was tied to a chair. She heard her kidnappers saying they needed to call “the boss.”
“What did you do to this man?” the kidnappers asked her. “Why has this man asked us to kill you?’”
But Noela had absolutely no clue what or who they were talking about.
“Your husband!” the kidnappers shouted in frustration.
Noela called them liars. There was no way Kalala set this up!
“Let me call who has paid us to kill you,” they said.
And with that, Noela heard her husband’s voice on the loudspeaker saying, “Kill her.”
Noela was held captive for two days until the kidnappers ultimately let her go without telling Kalala.
“We don’t kill women and children,” they told her.
Instead of following through with the plan, the men hired to kill Neola extorted more money from Kalala and lied to him, telling him she was dead.
The men also had a surprising instruction for Noela: tell other women to leave their violent husbands.
Noela quietly returned to Australia, where her funeral was being held.
As she watched mourners leaving her own service, she confronted Kalala on the spot.
Her husband was absolutely shocked. “Is it my eyes? Is it a ghost?!” he exclaimed.
Kalala touched her shoulder to make sure he wasn’t seeing things and jumped back in dismay. He even apologized.
Noela called the police and told them everything.
At first, Kalala denied the murder plot. But as it turned out, the kidnappers provided authorities with recordings of Kalala organizing the hit and money-transfer receipts as proof of the contract killing. When police played him the evidence, he broke down.
Still, Kalala had no real explanation for the evil plot against his wife.
Kalala plead guilty to incitement to murder and was sentenced to nine years in prison.