The gang that kidnapped Noela ended up releasing her. They didn't want to kill her as it went against their religious beliefs.
Balenga Kalala and Noela Rukundo arrived in Australia as refugees in 2004. Although the two came to the country separately, they had the same social worker. This gave them an opportunity to meet each other, fall in love, get married, and start a beautiful family together.
Noela, who had five children from her previous marriage, became a mother of three kids with Balenga. Just as she thought life couldn't be any better, her husband began showing his true colors, especially the fact that he was capable of violence. Despite being aware of this, Noela couldn't walk away as "I loved this man with all my heart!" she told BBC.
Over a decade later, Noela went back to her native place in Burundi, Africa, to attend her stepmother's funeral. "I had lost the last person who I call 'mother'," she said. "It was very painful. I was so stressed." Following a stressful day in Burundi, the mother-of-eight finally got the chance to retire to her hotel room. This is when her husband, who was in Australia, called her up seemingly worried about her whereabouts. "He says he'd been trying to get me for the whole day," she recalled. "I said I was going to bed. He told me, 'To bed? Why are you sleeping so early?'" Not only was she grieving about her step mom, the man she loved and spent ten years with, decided to pick that day of all days to end her life!
"I say, 'I'm not feeling happy'. And he asks me, 'How's the weather? Is it very, very hot?' He told me to go outside for fresh air," shared Noela, who assumed that her partner had her best interest in mind and thus took his advice. "I didn't think anything. I just thought that he cared about me, that he was worried about me," she said. Imagine the guts he had to direct her outside the hotel from a different country. By leaving the room, she unwittingly walked into a dangerous trap laid out for her. "I opened the gate and I saw a man coming towards me. Then he pointed the gun at me. He just told me, 'Don't scream. If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They're going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead,'" she recounted.
Spared by the hitmen with principles https://t.co/NeHU7Qryt5— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 5, 2016
A scared Noela thought it was best to do as she was told and ended up being kidnapped at gunpoint by two men hired by her husband. However, during this altercation, the gang told the woman that they didn't want to kill her as it went against their religious beliefs. Not only did they spare her life, but also provided her with evidence against her husband. This included a memory card with recorded conversations between him and the gang discussing the murder and receipts showing the money transfers he made to them.
As Noela was struggling to come to terms with the fact that her own husband tried to get her killed, Balenga began making preparations for her funeral believing that she was dead. Within days, he held the funeral and put on an unbelievable show of mourning for his wife's death. But just as he had finished saying goodbye to the last attendee, he was shocked to see Noela right before his eyes. "When I get out of the car, he saw me straight away. He put his hands on his head and said, 'Is it my eyes? Is it a ghost?" she remembered.
@BBCWorld the story was very moving.let god give her the strength to carry on.— charles Davison (@DavisonCharles) February 5, 2016
"Surprise! I'm still alive!" she told him, as the frightened man began walking towards her slowly, unable to believe what he was seeing. "He kept talking to himself and when he reached me, he touched me on the shoulder. He jumped," explained Noela. "He did it again. He jumped. Then he said, 'Noela, is it you?'… Then he start screaming, 'I'm sorry for everything.'" Of course, an apology could not make up for the horrifying ordeal that Balenga had put his partner through. Thus, she called the police and got him off the premises.
The man confessed that he had hired people to kill his wife as he thought Noela would leave him for another man, a claim that Noela immediately denied. Eventually, he was sentenced to nine years in jail for trying to get his wife killed. "I can't believe this is happening to me because this is the man I lived with for ten years, and I do everything for him to make this marriage work," the traumatized wife told ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). "I'm feeling stressed, and depressed. I'm feeling very bad." Despite what her husband did, Noela found it in herself to forgive the man. "He's a human being. From my heart, I forgive him. Let God judge him," she said.