In a dull contest, veteran midfielder Surprise Moriri headed home a 23rd minute corner for his first goal for the hosts at Makhulong Stadium.
The win lifted Highlands to 13th spot on the table with 20 points from 21 matches - a point ahead of neighbours Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars, and five in front of Baroka.
Maritzburg, who have won once in seven outings in 2017 under new coach Roger de Sa, are 10th in the standings with 23 points from 21 fixtures.
Highlands mentor Gordon Igesund made wholesale team changes following a 2-0 Nedbank Cup defeat to Ea Lla Koto in their previous assignment.
Igesund brought back goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, Eddie Ngalo, Chris Katjiukua, Mothobi Mvala, Moriri, Lindokuhle Mbatha and Peter Shalulile.
The men to make way were: Marlon Heugh, Pedro Amorim, Christopher Komane, Thanduyise Khuboni, Sandile Khwela, Franklin Cale and well-travelled Ethiopian hitman Fikru Lemessa.
De Sa likewise also made adjustments after a successive KZN derby loss to Golden Arrows.
The former Ajax Cape Town boss handed starts to Brian Onyango, Devon Saal and Mohau Mokate at the expense of Denis Weidlich, Lebohang Maboe and Kurt Lentjies.