Leaders of an Ethiopian group who reportedly ‘adopted’ cancer faker Belle Gibson claim she has nothing to do with their community.
In a bizarre, 11-minute interview filmed by a community media group late last year, Gibson is addressed by the traditional name ‘Sabontu’.
The fraudster wears a headscarf and says she is ‘blessed’ to be part of the Oromo community in Melbourne, thanking the ‘Lord’ as well as ‘Allah’.
But the president of a major group for the Oromo diaspora in Victoria told Daily Mail Australia Gibson was not a registered volunteer.
A separate series of photographs emerged on social media on Thursday showing Gibson carrying an Oromia umbrella and in cultural dress
‘We hadn’t been aware of this woman and we do not know her backstory,’ president Tarekegn Chimdi said.
He said Gibson attended a handful of events where she mingled with people, but community members had always assumed she was tagging along with a friend.
‘She is not a community member and she’s also not working with the community… She has to stop [telling people she is].
‘It’s fairly surprising, and what a shame.’
In the footage of Gibson at an event last year, she spoke at length about Ethiopian politics – even referring to the East African nation as ‘home’.
And in a troubling development given her track record, she discusses raising a ‘large amount of money’ for the Oromo peoples’ home state.
Video has surfaced of cancer fraudster Belle Gibson speaking about her involvement in Melbourne’s Oromo community
The Oromo are the largest ethnic group in the east African nation of Ethiopia and a large diaspora lives in Victoria.
The disgraced wellness blogger – who claimed she cured her brain cancer by eating healthy food – said ‘my heart is deeply embedded in the Oromo people’.
‘My involvement in the Oromo community has been for the last four years and it started through volunteering,’ Gibson told the community outlet Shabo Media.
A separate photo of Gibson emerged on social media overnight. Community sources believe she has converted to Islam
‘I became deeply invested in the community because I saw the character and the values of your people.
‘Through the rites of the Oromo I feel completely adopted by your nation and your people.’
Community sources believed Gibson had become a follower of Islam – but, despite indications in the interview, that could not be confirmed.
In the clip, Gibson speaks of being involved in the struggle for independence in Oromia – one of nine states in Ethiopia.
Gibson speaks about the hundreds of years of oppression faced by Oromo people and shows a remarkable level of knowledge about local political figures. She talks about the ‘opportunities’ faced by that nation’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, and the chaos in that country.
‘I feel like my heart is as invested as yours’ and your family’s,’ she tells the reporter.
‘I see no difference in your struggle and the struggle that I have for fighting of the liberation of Oromia.
‘Your struggle is my struggle!’
Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Oromo make up 35 per cent of the population of the East African nation
Belle Gibson’s home in Melbourne’s north-east was ground zero for a ‘seize and sell’ search warrant executed by Sheriff’s Officers on Wednesday morning
In the interview, Gibson – who was fined for misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to her ‘charity donations’ – also refers to the community launching a ‘grouping’ to raise ‘large amounts of money’.
‘We… discussed looking forward to the future and doing a community grouping to raise large amounts of money for Oromia,’ she says.
THE OROMO: THE LARGEST ETHNIC GROUP IN ETHIOPIA
The Oromo make up the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.
They are mainly concentrated in the Oromia region, in central Ethiopia.
Oromia is one of nine states of the east African nation.
A large Oromo diaspora lives in Melbourne.
Despite Dr Chimdi’s claims, a Shabo Media spokesman said Gibson often attends community events.
The cancer faker has ‘changed a lot’ and was ‘trying to move on’ from the scandal,’ the spokesman said.
‘She’s part of the community, she’s into it – she’s trying to help out the community. We know what she’s done before.’
The spokesman said she had been given the name Sabontu by the community.
Despite her poor reputation in wider society, the interview was greeted with largely positive Facebook comments from the Oromo community.
One said: ‘You are one of our amongst heroes … we love you standing with us.’
‘Sabontu, we proud of you!’ said another.
But a third said: ‘This is how they can fool you guys! Please wake up.’
Daily Mail Australia understands Gibson recently asked for the filmed interview to be taken down.
Gibson was hauled in front of the Federal Court last year and claimed ‘I’m not in a position to pay a $410,000 fine at this time’
Gibson has previously shown an interest in Africa, travelling to the continent with her son while neglecting to pay back the $500,000 she owes the taxpayer for ripping off Australians.
Gibson was originally fined $410,000 by the Federal Court for her false claims of charity donations.
This week, Daily Mail Australia exclusively revealed that Gibson’s debt has ballooned past the half a million dollar mark when including fines, penalties and interest.
Her home in Northcote was raided by Sheriff’s Officers executing a ‘seize and sell’ warrant on Wednesday morning.
Consumer Affairs Victoria wants to sell off assets Gibson has, in order to recoup the monies.
During her last appearance at Federal Court she said she was ‘not in a position to pay’ the fine.
Gibson did not answer the front door this week. Daily Mail Australia has contacted Victoria’s Oromo Community Association for comment on Gibson joining the wider community.
Belle Gibson’s fake cancer saga: How it happened
October 1991: Belle Gibson is born
May 2009: Gibson claims to have undergone multiple operations on her heart and also momentarily died on the operating table
July 2009: Gibson claims that a doctor diagnosed her with terminal brain cancer and that she only had four months to live.
Early 2013: She launches an Instagram account (@healing_belle) and accompanying website sharing healthy, wholefood recipes.
Mid 2013: Gibson releases an app of her recipes
Mid-2014: Gibson begins working with Apple on the development of an apple watch specific platform for the Whole Food Pantry
November 12, 2014: Cosmopolitan honours Gibson with a Fun, Fearless, Female award in the social media category.
March 8, 2015: The Age newspaper releases an investigation into Gibson’s claims of donating proceeds to charity.
April 2015: Women’s Weekly publishes an interview with Gibson, where she admits ‘none of it’s true’.
May 6, 2015: Victoria’s consumer watchdog launches legal proceedings against Gibson’s false claims of defeating cancer by way of a wholefood diet
June 2015: Gibson gives a TV interview with Nine’s Tara Brown, program where she claims ‘I’m not trying to get away with anything’
September 2017: Gibson is fined $410,000 by the Federal Court for her false claims of charitable donations
The judge describes her as having a ‘relentless obsession with herself and what serves her best interests’
June 2019: Almost two years after she was ordered to pay the fine, Gibson tells the court: ‘I’m not in a position to pay a $410,000 fine at this stage’
December 2019: Consumer Affairs Victoria quietly issues a warrant ‘of seizure or sale’ against Gibson
January 22, 2020: Sheriff executes a ‘seize and sell’ warrant on Gibson’s Northcote home, following inquiries from Daily Mail Australia
January 23: Daily Mail Australia reveals she has been ‘adopted’ by an Ethiopian group,