The Dube Birds, who as recently as 2012 won the MTN8 and months earlier finished second in the Premier League, face oblivion with relegation to the SAB Regional League in South Africa, the fourth-tier of domestic football, after years of poor administration.
Swallows go into Saturday’s final league game of the season against promotion-chasing Orange Vaal Professionals knowing only victory will save them from a third relegation in as many years.
Mangena, who was previously also an owner of the club, played for the Dube Birds between 1986 and 1988, scoring 22 goals in 55 appearances before signing for Kaizer Chiefs.
“You know what, one cannot express the sadness of this situation," Mangena tells snl24.com/kickoff. "What is happening to Swallows is something that no one ever expected.
"It’s so sad that so much history of this club had gone down the drain. So much history for the team that has built and nurtured a lot of great stars in South Africa.
"You can talk of the late Congo Malibale, Brian Tlali, Ace Mnini, Thomas Hlongwane, Chakachaka Mpondo, you know the list is endless.
"It's sad. When Swallows was relegated to the First Division we still had hope that they'll go to the Premier League and turn things around, but when they got relegated to the ABC Motsepe League, I lost hope."
The SABC pundit believes Swallows will not come back to the top-flight unless someone buys the name of Swallows and the status of a team in the PSL or NFD.
"The only way Moroka Swallows will come back is when someone buys a top or second-tier status and renames it Moroka Swallows," Mangena says. "But to take the Swallows that might be campaigning in the SAB League and bring it back, it's impossible. It'll never happen.”
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi had led a consortium that tried to buy the top-flight status of Free State Stars at the start of this season, but the deal did not materialise.