Mbete was speaking in Verena village in Mpumalanga during the funeral service of 16 school pupils and a man who died in a minibus taxi accident that claimed 20 lives near Bronkhorstspruit in Gauteng on April 21.
“We take this opportunity to say these kids leave us at the time when we are fixing our country. Let us teach our children coming after us that if there is damage at home and when we differ in opinions we do not go outside and make noise to our neighbours. We don’t do that. What we do is get into the house and speak to uncles and aunties.
"These children leave us at the difficult time when we see other children toyi-toying, including those we didn’t know they knew how to toyi-toyi. We see them outside there toyi-toying and saying [President] Jacob Zuma must go,” Mbete said.
Mbete said it was important for South Africans to continue what she called the "job of fixing South Africa" left by former African National Congress leaders Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. She said the job included continuing to fix the roads, transport, and education systems.
Mbete appealed for unity within the tripartite alliance, saying children of the same age as those who died in the accident would need a "united alliance" when they grew up.
She said the country also needed a "united alliance". The alliance is made up of the ANC, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the South African Communist Party, and the South African Civic Organisation (Sanco).
The funeral service was also attended by, among others, Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza, Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi, and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Emotions ran high during the formal proceedings and emergency workers had to lead a number of crying pupils and women out of the marquee to to compose themselves.
Others were consoled by nurses and social workers. Outside the marquee was a group of about 10 boys wearing red football T-shirts. They told the African News Agency (ANA) that they were there to pay their last respects to their football team owner Thapelo Mayisela, who died in the crash, along with his younger brother Sibusiso and sister Nokuthula.
“I will miss Thapelo a lot because he was our team owner and a good leader,” said player Nkosinathi Masango.