Chiefs have collected just five points from 15 in their opening five games after winning one match as their trophy drought looks likely to continue for a seventh consecutive season.
Amakhosi visit AmaZulu on Saturday afternoon with the Durban side having picked up form of late with two wins and a draw in all competitions after a slow start.
"We cannot underestimate Chiefs because they lost some of their games," warns Makhaula.
"For us, there is pressure because we are playing at home. They are also under pressure to win. With us, we always have pressure because we finished second last season.
"It is encouraging, though also dangerous because at times you might think that this is a dead snake, yet it is not and will awaken and get back its bite on you.
"Once it awakens and bites it makes it difficult. Let us not take them lightly. Don't you dare say the snake is dead when it is only sleeping and scanning how it will awaken.
"Chiefs' situation can change quickly and we can become the ones that are now under pressure."
Makhaula also shared his pride at being entrusted with the armband by head coach Benni McCarthy for this season.
"I prefer to lead by example and encourages the troops that we should go in for the battle. I think coach Benni gave me the armband for this reason.
"I don’t believe in talking on the field and this is what he told me that no matter how talented you are if you don’t work hard, you will never go anywhere so I think working hard is the right thing in life."
Kick-off is at 15:30.