Friday, September 22, 2023

Noela Rukundo, A woman who saw her funeral with her own eyes

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Noela Rukundo, A woman who saw her funeral with her own eyes. Noela Rukundo is a Burundian-Australian woman who became notable for crashing her funeral. In January 2015, she was presumed dead after her husband, Balenga Kalala, secretly paid several men to kill her while she was in Burundi for her stepmother’s funeral.

However, the gunmen had refused to kill Rukundo, though they told him they had. They released her two days later and gave her evidence to incriminate her husband for his plans to have her murdered. Following Rukundo’s funeral in February 2015, where Kalala told attendees that she had been killed in a tragic accident, she arrived unannounced at the couple’s house in Australia to confront him.

Kalala was later charged with incitement to murder and sentenced to nine years in prison. Noela Rukundo emigrated from Burundi to Australia as a refugee in 2004, a mother of five at the time. Soon after, she met Balenga Kalala, a Congolese forklift operator and refugee who had also arrived in 2004 to flee a rebel army that had killed his wife and child when he was 24 years old.

The two shared a social worker at a resettlement agency they both went to, who would often ask Kalala, who spoke English, to help translate for Rukundo, who spoke Swahili. The two started a relationship and moved in together in the Kings Park suburb of Melbourne, and soon got married and had three children together.

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