Stars offered little and were stung by the early sending-off of Thabiso Semenya for deliberate handball.
The kick-off was delayed by 20 minutes while Pirates changed into their red away strip, having initially put on their home white kit that clashed with the socks of Stars.
And when the action did finally get under way, it was a cautious start from both sides.
The pivotal moment of the opening period came on 18 minutes when Semenya was shown a straight red as he blocked a through-ball with his arm.
Sifiso Myeni had a wonderful opportunity to give Bucs the lead when he found himself one-on-one with home Siyabonga Mpontshane, but the goalkeeper made a fine block.
Debutant Takesure Chinyama did not have the best of halves, putting a headed chance wide and then skying a shot from the edge of the area.
Pirates had the ball in the back of the net just seconds before the break, but Siyabonga Sangweni was adjudged to have been offside when replays showed that he was on.
Substitute Thulasizwe Mbuyane found himself free on goal just past the hour-mark, but could not beat Mpontshane with his low shot.
However, the goal did come with 20 minutes remaining. Pirates were awarded a penalty when Myeni’s cross struck Ntsikelelo Nyauza’s arm, leaving Jali to stroke home for their first goal in 450 minutes of football.
There were a few more chance towards the end of the match, but De Sa will be satisfied to emerge from his debut as Bucs coach with the three points.