Thousands of ANC Youth League members burst into a "Shoot to kill for Zuma" chant when they welcomed the ruling party's leader on his arrival at their national conference.

They toyi-toyied in front of Jacob Zuma on the podium when he arrived to give the closing address at the second leg of the ANCYL's 23rd national conference in Joburg on Sunday.

The ANC president made no comment on their song and stuck to his prepared speech, which focused on the ill-disciplined conduct of the Youth League during their chaotic conference in Mangaung, Bloemfontein, two months ago.

The delegates' chanting was modelled on the controversial statement by ANCYL president Julius Malema at a Youth Day rally in the Free State.

Malema was slated by opposition parties and the SA Human Rights Commission (HRC), which gave him two weeks to apologise or face action.

ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe also indicated that talk of killing and taking up arms was inappropriate in a constitutional democracy.

But the militant Malema has refused to apologise.

Former ANCYL president Fikile Mbalula told delegates on Sunday that ANC members were prepared to die in defence of the revolution.

They would continue to support Zuma and defend him in all respects.

He failed to fathom why people were making noise about the "shoot to kill" statements.

Malema, repeating his earlier explanation of the "shoot to kill" chant, said it should not be taken literally.

"Don't impose liberal language (on us). We are using this (word) 'kill' to determine our passion and love in defence of the revolution. We respect the laws of this country. We respect the constitution."

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi followed Malema's militant path and told mourners at a funeral in Joburg they were prepared to lay down their lives for Zuma.

Although the HRC asked him to retract his words, Vavi refused, and at the weekend said he would be writing to the commission to explain the context in which he made the remark.

And, at the unveiling of the tombstone of National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union leader Bheki Mkhize in Ulundi at the weekend, Vavi said he did not feel the need to apologise.

"The DA and liberals, and now, surprisingly, the Human Rights Commission, would be horrified that Mkhize was so ready to die for his people.

"All those who have been distressed by our commitment to lay down our own lives for our revolution, (those) that do not come from this tradition, need to understand this is not an empty commitment. It's a real commitment," said Vavi.