"The respondents have set out no reasons why the applicants would not be entitled to inspect or copy the securities register as they were ordered to do by Bertelsmann J," a judgment handed down by Judge Sulet Potterill on Wednesday read.
"The refusal of the respondents is in itself criminal conduct."
City Press had applied for access to the companies' share registers, which shows who owns the companies, in September last year
Potterill said the companies, On-Point Engineers, SGL Engineering and Gwama Properties, reportedly linked to former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, a year later had still not given reasons why City Press would not be entitled to the registers.
It was argued that the newspaper did not have the right to access the share registers of private companies under the 2008 Companies Act.
However, Potterill in her judgment said access provisions had been replicated from the old 2008 act to the new act, which was amended in April 2011.
"Under the old act access of a members register was granted to any person, provided the prescribed fee was paid. In the new act the only change is a name change in that a profit company must have a securities register which was the members register under the old act," the judgment read.
Potterill ordered the companies to allow City Press to inspect or make copies of the securities registers.
The companies were also ordered to pay the costs of the applicants, City Press assistant editor Adriaan Basson and Media 24 Limited.
According to court papers submitted in a separate case, it was alleged that Malema had clear business ties with On-Point Engineers director Lesiba Gwangwa and benefited from fraudulent tenders awarded to the company.
Malema's Ratanang Family Trust was also shown to be an indirect shareholder in On-Point.
Gwama Properties was 100% owned by Guilder Investment, indicating that the Ratanang Trust had an indirect shareholding in Gwama Properties.
SGL Engineering Project is 70% owned by Malema and 30% owned by Gwangwa.
*News24 is part of 24.com, a subsidiary of Media24, which is in the Naspers stable. City Press is a subsidiary of Media24.