A Felix Obada header early in the first half proved the difference, as Swallows continue their spirited fight to avoid the drop this season.
Maritzburg United skipper Kurt Kentjies missed a glorious chance to put the visitors ahead in just the second minute after being left unmarked at the back post following a dangerous ball into the box, yet he lacked composure in front of goal as he struck his effort well wide.
The visitors were themselves then caught at the back just three minutes later, and were made to pay as Shere Lekgothoane’s cross from the left was met by an unmarked Obada, who headed the Birds into the lead.
Swallows veteran Siyabonga Nomvethe could have doubled the hosts’ lead on 18 minutes after being played through, yet his side-footed effort was well blocked by the boot of Shu-Aib Walters to deny the former Bafana Bafana striker a goal.
Swallows enjoyed the majority of chances in the early stages, yet it was the Team of Choice who finished the first half as the stronger side: Mondli Cele had two chances in quick succession, heading a cross narrowly off-target before producing a fine sprawling save from Greg Etafia following his effort on goal two minutes later.
In the dying moments of the half, Ashraf Hendricks was booked for a strong challenge on the edge of the area, with the resulting free-kick blasted narrowly wide by Cele once more, as his side entered the break trailing by a solitary goal.
The second half proved a much tighter affair in Dobsonville, as Maritzburg went in search of the equaliser while Swallows looked to double their lead on the counter.
Lantshene Phalane proved the Birds' creative spark, yet he struck his effort from distance well-wide in the 48th minute.
A corner for the Birds midway through the second period fell to an unmarked Rudi Isaacs at the back post, yet he could only direct his header wide as Craig Rosslee looked on in despair.
Maritzburg had a great chance to find their first goal of the match through Mohau Mokate, who received the second ball from a deep cross, yet Etafia was equal to the task and gathered the ball comfortably.
A burst of speed by 37-year-old Nomvethe on the edge of the area saw him lay off the ball for teammate Phalane, who again struck his shot wide.
Mohammed Anas, who came on as a substitute for Maritzburg, let fly from range, yet failed to trouble Etafia in the Swallows goal. The Nigerian shot-stopper was however called into action minutes later as he produced a fine save on his near post from a well-taken Mekoa strike.
Despite their efforts, Maritzburg could not breach the hosts’ defence as Swallows held on for all three points to lift themselves off the bottom of the table and now sit three points ahead of fellow strugglers Amazulu, who are in action later this weekend.