Cancer fraudster Belle Gibson rejected by Ethiopians
By: TESSA AKERMAN
(theaustralian)—Cancer fraudster Belle Gibson’s latest guise has unravelled with Victoria’s Oromo community rejecting suggestions she has joined their ranks after a video surfaced of her claiming she had reinvented herself as a member of the Ethiopian tribal group.
Donning a headscarf and praising Allah, Ms Gibson, who was found guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct over the fake cancer scandal, has claimed to have been volunteering for the community group for about four years and was involved in efforts to raise money for its leaders “back home”.
She has also taken on the name “Sabontu”.
The president of the Australian Oromo Community Association in Victoria, Tarekegn Chimdi, rejected Ms Gibson’s claims when they were put to him on Thursday. telling The Australian that he had only just learned about her “shameful story”.
He said she was not a registered volunteer with the organisation and background checks were typically conducted on official volunteers.
Dr Chimdi said he had seen her at events just two or three times and thought someone had brought her.
“We hadn’t been aware of this woman and we do not know her backstory,” he said.
Ms Gibson attracted national attention when she was fined $410,000 by the Federal Court in 2017 for breaking consumer law regarding her claims that she had cured terminal brain cancer with diet and alternative therapies.
She built a social media empire off the back of it before it emerged that she never had cancer.
In the video posted on Facebook by Shabo Media, Ms Gibson introduces herself in the Oromo language and said she felt “blessed to be adopted” by the community.
She said she had been part of discussions to raise “large amounts of money” for the ongoing support of Oromia and a local political hero.
“I felt completely adopted by your nation and your people and I feel like my heart is as invested as yours and your families,” she said in the video.
“I see no difference in your struggle and the struggle that I have for fighting for the liberation of Oromia.”
Dr Chimdi said he had seen Ms Gibson “mingling with people” at events but didn’t know who she was and no one asked.
“She is not a community member and she’s also not working with the community,” he said.
“She has to stop (telling people she is).”
A spokesman for Shabo Media said they had interviewed a lot of people on that day and he had been impressed with Ms Gibson because she was an Australian woman wearing Oromo dress, spoke a little of the language and knew about Ethiopian politics.
“Nobody knew who she was,” he said. “We just found out who she was the other day … I have a very different perspective to what I had before.”
The man said he thought Ms Gibson was just a friend of a community member. In the video, Ms Gibson said she became “deeply invested in the community because I saw the character and the values of your people”.
Ms Gibson has not made efforts to pay the Federal Court penalty and her inner-city Northcote home was raided on Wednesday by Sheriff’s officers seizing goods to sell for the debt.