A tribute to Bernard Kalove, Pattni's 'partner-in-crime'

The late lawyer Bernard Kalove with his client Kamlesh Pattni after appearing for mention of Goldenberg and related trials. [File, Standard]

Last Sunday, one of businessman Kamlesh Pattni’s lawyer breathed his last, going with him the secrets of how the Sh158.3 billion scandal was executed.

Bernard Kalove was November of 1998 charged alongside Pattni with two counts of forging the signature of Mr Nassir Ibrahim Ali to show sale of Kenya Duty Free Complex.

A few months later, they obtained an order prohibiting further hearing of the case.

He had earlier shot into the limelight as the lawyer who represented Pattni in the highly publicised Sh5.8 billion case relating to the scam where he successfully applied for his release.

At the time, the flamboyant businessman had cooled his heels at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison for nearly a year.

Pattni had been charged alongside former Treasury Permanent Secretary the late Wilfred Karuga Koinange, former Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor the late Eliphaz Riungu among other senior CBK and treasury officials who served between October 1990 -1993.

Kalove’s professional relationship with Pattni, however, turned from that of a lawyer to, for lack of better words into “partner-in-crime”.

So close was their relationship that Kalove found himself in the crosshairs of the Law Society of Kenya over professional misconduct.

Four months ago, I bumped into Kalove at a popular entertainment spot along the Kangundo – Nairobi Road and I quickly noticed that he was not in his usual element of charm, banter and disarming smiles.

He feebly addressed me using a name he loved when we met, ‘Kaseee .. Mambo’.

We did share some niceties and he ordered a drink for me, which I heartily accepted.

Ben, as we fondly called him, did not alight from his vehicle and instead send his driver to buy him some assorted drinks which he enjoyed while seated inside his car.

I bid him Kwaheri and joined three Machakos politicians at our reserved table at the popular joint in Kantafu trading centre in Matungulu Sub County, Machakos County.

And that was the last time I set my eyes on my friend Kalove.

He breathed his last at a Nairobi Hospital after a short illness and left behind his beloved wife, Winfrida Karimi Mugambi and three children, Alfonce, Lee and Faithlyn.

Kalove was one of the well-known lawyers from the then larger Kangundo Constituency and whose personality and charisma was admired by younger folks from the region.

The region has also produced ‘big’ names like the late Paul Ngei, a towering politician and freedom fighter, the late Attorney General Mathew Guy Muli, the late Ambassador Henry Muli, Professors Raphael Munavu and Peter Mbithi, ironically who all hail from adjacent villages with the late Kalove.

On a personal level, I had many interactions with him as a political writer with the Standard both in Nairobi and Kangundo and he was a good news source and a generous person. We would share many insights and happening over a drink and chunks of roast and boiled meat especially at the Misandukuni joint in Tala town, then run by his friend Mutuku Munavu.

In his heydays, Kalove was admired as a “celebrity lawyer’’ in an era when lawyers were revered as the intellectual true north in the country.

Admitted to the roll of advocates in 1989, Kalove specialized in criminal law.

Before establishing his own law firm, Kalove was employed in the law firm of Wetangula & Co. Advocates whose managing partner was the now Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetang’ula.

He was among other trailblazers in the legal fraternity from Kangundo who included the late Joe ‘Goods’ Nzioka, the late Richard Isika, Mueke Nguli, Muli Koli and Agnes Mutunga, among others.

Most times reserved, Kalove unlike many other lawyers often veered away from political discourse and would aptly be at home imbibing his favourite drink and keeping mum while listening to what others had to say.

But when the good moods hit him, he would engage boisterously, and that was him. Despite his professional success, Kalove remained humble and you would often find him in average joints in Tala , Kangundo , Kikambuani and Mbilini  towns where he loved engaging locals .

 A requiem mass will be held on Tuesday at our Lady of Rosary Church –Kiambu Road.

Kalove will be laid to rest at his Kantafu home, off Kangundo Road, Matungulu Constituency, Machakos County.

Kalove, in the garden of memories will forever bloom as a dear friend to many, and a lawyer.

Kalove was admitted to the Roll of Advocates in 1989 and specialized in criminal law. In his illustrious career as a lawyer, Kalove handled various cases involving prominent individuals including politicians and businessmen. 

The writer is a former Journalist with The Standard and Public Communication Director, Machakos County