There are some people who wonder what their funeral would be like but one woman was able to witness it firsthand.
According to the Washington Post, One woman named Noela Rukundo, three hit men and a pastor worked together to plan the unusual event.
This is how it began …
Rukundo told BBC in an interview that she flew from Melbourne to Burundi to attend a funeral. This one was not her own.
Her stepmother had passed away and after the service she returned to her hotel in Bujumbura, the capital. While in her room, she received a phone call from her husband, Balenga Kalala (pictured below). She said they began talking and she expressed her sorrow over losing a family member.
“He told me to go outside for fresh air,” she told the BBC.
The minute she stepped out of her hotel, a man came forward with a gun.
“Don’t scream,” she recalled him saying. “If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They’re going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.”
Rukundo obeyed the man and was ushered into a car, blindfolded. It was around 40 minutes when the car finally came to a stop. Rukundo says she was pushed into a building and tied to chair.
She could hear male voices. One asked her, “You woman, what did you do for this man to pay us to kill you?”
“What are you talking about?” Rukundo demanded.
“Balenga sent us to kill you.
They were lying. She told them so. And they laughed.
“You’re a fool,” they told her.
There was the sound of a dial tone, and a male voice coming through a speakerphone. It was her husband’s voice.
“Kill her,” he said
And Rukundo fainted
Rukundo and her husband met 11 years earlier, not long after she arrived in Australia from Burundi. He was a recent refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and they had the same social worker at the resettlement agency that helped them get on their feet.
The couple soon fell in love, moved in together and had three children. Rukundo says she learned more about her husband’s past: he fled a rebel army that had ransacked his village, killing his wife and young son. She also learned more about his character.
“I knew he was a violent man,” Rukundo told the BBC. “But I didn’t believe he can kill me.”
When Rukundo regained consciousness from fainting, she was in a building somewhere near Bujumbura. The kidnappers were still there, she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (the ABC).
Then something unexpected happened.
The kidnappers explained they were not going to kill her. They didn’t believe in killing women and they actually were acquainted with her brother.
They did decide to keep her husband’s money and tell him that she was dead. Then, two days later, they let her go with a little gift: a cellphone recording of their conversations with her husband as well as the receipt for the $7,000 in Australian currency they received in payment
“We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened,” Rukundo said she was told before the gang members drove away.
So that’s when she hatched a plan.
She sought help from the Kenyan and Belgian embassies to return to Australia, according to The Age. Then she called the pastor of her church in Melbourne, she told the BBC, and explained to him what had happened. Without alerting Kalala, the pastor helped her get back home to her neighborhood near Melbourne.
Meanwhile, her husband told everyone in her community that she died in a tragic accident. A funeral was planned and held at the family home.
On the night of her own funeral, just as her husband was waving goodbye to some neighbors, she approached him.
“I felt like somebody who had risen again,” she told the BBC.
Of course, he was stunned. He put his hands on his head in horror as he started to speak to his partner of 10 years that just five days earlier he had ordered hit men to murder.
“Is it my eyes?” she recalled him saying. “Is it a ghost?”
“Surprise! I’m still alive!” she replied.
Initially Kalala denied all involvement but Rukundo got him to confess to the crime during a phone conversation that was secretly recorded by police, according to The Age.
“Sometimes Devil can come into someone, to do something, but after they do it they start thinking, ‘Why I did that thing?’ later,” he said, as he begged her to forgive him.
Kalala eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
“Had Ms. Rukundo’s kidnappers completed the job, eight children would have lost their mother,” Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said, according to the ABC. “It was premeditated and motivated by unfounded jealousy, anger and a desire to punish Ms. Rukundo.”
Rukundo said that Kalala tried to kill her because he thought she was going to leave him for another man — an accusation she denies, according to the Post
Now, Rukundo is still fearful. She’s received backlash from the Melbourne’s Congolese community for reporting Kalala to the police.
She says she’s received threatening phone messages and even found her back door broken. With eight children to raise by herself, Rukundo says she’s requested help from the Department of Human Services to find a new place to live.
Despite all that, “I will stand up like a strong woman,” she said. “My situation, my past life? That is gone. I’m starting a new life now.”